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His nerves were wrong. What ails us who are sound,
That we should mimic this raw fool the world,
Which charts us all in its coarse blacks or whites,
As ruthless as a baby with a worm,
As cruel as a schoolboy ere he grows
To Pity — more from ignorance than will.
But put your best foot forward, or I fear
That we shall miss the mail: and here it comes
With five at top: as quaint a four-in-hand
As you shall see — three pyebalds and a roan.


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?
Show me the man hath suffered more than I.
For did not all thy martyrs die one death?
For either they were stoned, or crucified,
Or burned in fire, or boiled in oil, or sawn
In twain beneath the ribs; but I die here
To-day, and whole years long, a life of death.
Bear witness, if I could have found a way
(And needfully I sifted all my thought)
More slowly-painful to subdue this home
Of sin, my flesh, which I despise and hate,
I had not stinted practice, oh my God!For not alone this pillar-punishment,
Not this alone I bore: but while I lived
In the white convent down the valley there,
For many weeks about my loins I wore
The rope that haled the buckets from the well,
Twisted as tight as I could knot the noose;
And spake not of it to a single soul,
Until the ulcer, eating through my skin,
Betrayed my secret penance, so that all
My brethren marvelled greatly. More than this
I bore, whereof, oh God, thou knowest all. Three winters, that my soul might grow to thee,
I lived up there on yonder mountain side.
My right leg chained into the crag, I lay

Pent in a roofless close of ragged stones;
Inswathed sometimes in wandering mist, and twice
Blacked with thy branding thunder, and sometimes
Sucking the damps for drink, and eating not,
Except the spare chance-gift of those that came
To touch my body and be healed, and live:
And they say then that I worked miracles,
Whereof my fame is loud amongst mankind,
Cured lameness, palsies, cancers. Thou, oh God,
Knowest alone whether this was or no.
Have mercy, mercy; cover all my sin!

Then, that I might be more alone with thee,
Three years I lived upon a pillar high
Six cubits, and three years on one of twelve;
And twice three years I crouched on one that rose
Twenty by measure; last of all, I grew
Twice ten long weary, weary years to this,
That numbers forty cubits from the soil.

I think that I have borne as much as this —
Or else I dream — and for so long a time,
If I may measure time by yon slow light,
And this high dial, which my sorrow crowns —
So much — even so.

And yet I know not well, For that the evil ones come here, and say, "Fall down, oh Simeon: thou hast suffered long

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