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His nerves were wrong. What ails us who are sound,
ST. SIMEON STYLITES.
Although I be the basest of mankind,
From scalp to sole one slough and crust of sin,
Unfit for earth, unfit for heaven, scarce meet
For troops of devils, mad with blasphemy,
I will not cease to grasp the hope I hold
Of saintdom, and to clamor, mourn and sob,
Battering the gates of heaven with storms of prayer,
Have mercy, Lord, and take away my sin.
Let this avail, just, dreadful, mighty God, This not be all in vain, that thrice ten years, Thrice multiplied by superhuman pangs, In hungers and in thirsts, fevers and cold, In coughs, aches, stitches, ulcerous throes and cramps, A sign betwixt the meadow and the cloud, Patient on this tall pillar I have borne Rain, wind, frost, heat, hail, damp, and sleet, and snow; And I had hoped that ere this period closed Thou wouldst have caught me up into thy rest, Denying not these weather-beaten limbs The meed of saints, the white robe and the palm.
O take the meaning, Lord: I do not breathe,
Not whisper, any murmur of complaint. Pain heaped ten-hundred-fold to this, were still Less burthen, by ten-hundred-fold, to bear, Than were those lead-like tons of sin, that crushed My spirit flat before thee.
O Lord, Lord, Thou knowest I bore this better at the first, For I was strong and hale of body then; And though my teeth, which now are dropt away, Would chatter with the cold, and all my beard Was tagged with icy fringes in the moon, I drowned the whoopings of the owl with sound Of pious hymns and psalms, and sometimes saw An angel stand and watch me, as I sang. Now am I feeble grown: my end draws nigh — I hope my end draws nigh: half deaf I am, So that I scarce can hear the people hum About the column's base, and almost blind, And scarce can recognize the fields I know. And both my thighs are rotted with the dew, Yet cease I not to clamor and to cry, While my stiff spine can hold my weary head, Till all my limbs drop piecemeal from the stone, Have mercy, mercy: take away my sin! O Jesus, if thou wilt not save my soul, Who may be saved? who is it may be saved?
Who may be made a saint, if I fail here?
Pent in a roofless close of ragged stones;
Then, that I might be more alone with thee,
I think that I have borne as much as this —
And yet I know not well, For that the evil ones come here, and say, "Fall down, oh Simeon: thou hast suffered long