[Written for the Sentinel.]


My days and nights to evil thoughts were closed;
I prayed to God aright, as I supposed;
As porter at my humble door I stood
That naught should find an entrance there but good.
And yet my friend, the healer, did not seem
To reach the stronghold of my troubled dream.
My ills and pains, despite his kindly zeal,
To mortal sense were still unmet and real.
At midnight long I pondered, quite alone.
Was there not some relief as yet unknown?
Whose fault was this? I longed anew to hear
Some word to lull my growing sense of fear.
Pluck out that idol by thy side! I heard
Distinctly spoken every measured word.
What idol? whence could come this strange behest?
Long, long I mused, the riddle still unguessed.

Day dawned; but, just before the east grew bright,
I fell to dreaming, and again 'twas night.
Beside my couch, with lips compressed, and still,
A figure stood; somehow I lacked the will
To speak. It was my counterpart; but, oh,
It was not I—its sphinxlike brow was low,
The deep-set lines of care were plainly seen
Upon its unresponsive, darkened mien.
Pluck out that idol by thy side!—just one
Tremendous lurch I gave—the deed was, done,
And out upon the court my idol fell
A shattered mass; this broke the painful spell.
The truth I saw—my idol, sere and grim,
Was self; and in the morning shadows dim
Sweet chimes of joy rang out from yonder tower,
For I was born again this selfsame hour.
A peace I ne'er had known surrounded me;
My thanks went up that I at last was free
To love my neighbor as myself—yea, more,
For self destroyed, which claimed my love before,
Was gone—the more of love could I bestow
Upon my neighbor, were he friend or foe.
Once more awake, I faced the growing light;
My heaven at hand was shadowless and bright,
For all my ills, my every known distress
Had found at last its native nothingness.

Enjoy 1 free Sentinel article or audio program each month, including content from 1898 to today.

We'd love to hear from you!

Easily submit your testimonies, articles, and poems online.