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ST. SIMEON STYLITES.
ALTHO' I be the basest of mankind,
From scalp to sole one slough and crust of sin,
I will not cease to grasp the hope I hold
Let this avail, just, dreadful, mighty God,
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 ;
The meed of saints, the white robe and the palm.
Than were those lead-like tons of sin, that crush'd
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,
I drown'd the whoopings of the owl with sound
Now am I feeble grown: my end draws nigh—
While my stiff spine can hold my weary head,
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,
I had not stinted practice, O my God.
For not alone this pillar-punishment,
Not this alone I bore: but while I lived
The rope that haled the buckets from the well,
Until the ulcer, eating through my skin,
My brethren marvell'd greatly. More than this
Three winters, that my soul might grow to thee,
I lived up there on yonder mountain side.
Inswath'd sometimes in wandering mist, and twice
To touch my body and be heal'd, and live.
And they say then that I work'd miracles,
Cured lameness, palsies, cancers.
Thou, O God,
Knowest alone whether this was or no.
Have mercy, mercy; cover all 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;
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-
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',