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ST. SIMEON STYLITES.
Altho? I be the basest of mankind,
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,
O take the meaning, Lord : I do not breathe,
O Lord, Lord,
Now am I feeble grown: my end draws nighI 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 recognise the fields I know. And both my thighs are rotted with the dew, Yet cease I not to clamour 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 suffer'd more than I. For did not all thy martyrs die one death ? For either they were stoned, or crucified, Or burn'd in fire, or boil'd 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 heedfully I sifted all my thought) More slowly-painful to subdue this home
Of sin, my flesh, which I despise and hate,
For not alone this pillar-punishment,
loins I wore
that haled the buckets from the well,
penance, so that all My brethren marvell’d greatly. More than this I bore, whereof, O God, thou knowest all.
Three winters, that my soul might grow to thee, I lived up there on yonder mountain side. My right leg chain'd into the crag, I lay Pent in a roofless close of ragged stones, Inswath'd sometimes in wandering mist, and twice Black'd 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 heal'd, and live.
And they say then that I work'd miracles,
Then, that I might be more alone with thee,
years I lived upon a pillar, high
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, O Simeon : thou hast suffer'd long For ages
and for ages !” then they prate Of penances I cannot have gone thro',