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Willie’s Question
by [?]


Willie speaks.

Papa, I am come again:
It is now three months and more
That I’ve tried to do the thing that was plain,
And I feel as small as before.

The Father answers.

Your honour comes too slow?
How much then have you done?
One foot on a mole-heap, would you crow
As if you had reached the sun?

Willie speaks.

But I cannot help a doubt
Whether this way be the true:
The more I do to work it out
The more there comes to do;

And yet, were all done and past,
I should feel just as small,
For when I had tried to the very last–
‘Twas my duty, after all!

It is only much the same
As not being liar or thief!

The Father answers.

One who tried it found even, with shame,
That of sinners he was the chief!

My boy, I am glad indeed
You have been finding the truth!

Willie speaks.

But where’s the good? I shall never speed–
Be one whit greater, in sooth!

If duty itself must fail,
And that be the only plan,
How shall my scarce begun duty prevail
To make me a mighty man?

The Father answers.

Ah, Willie! what if it were
Quite another way to fall?
What if the greatness itself lie there–
In knowing that you are small?

In seeing the good so good
That you feel poor, weak, and low;
And hungrily long for it as for food,
With an endless need to grow?

The man who was lord of fate,
Born in an ox’s stall,
Was great because he was much too great
To care about greatness at all.

Ever and only he sought
The will of his Father good;
Never of what was high he thought,
But of what his Father would.

You long to be great; you try;
You feel yourself smaller still:
In the name of God let ambition die;
Let him make you what he will.

Who does the truth, is one
With the living Truth above:
Be God’s obedient little son,
Let ambition die in love.