[Written for the Sentinel.]

MY BROKEN IDOL

My days and nights to evil thoughts were closed;I prayed to God aright, as I supposed;As porter at my humble door I stoodThat naught should find an entrance there but good.And yet my friend, the healer, did not seemTo 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 hearSome word to lull my growing sense of fear.Pluck out that idol by thy side! I heardDistinctly 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 willTo speak. It was my counterpart; but, oh,It was not I—its sphinxlike brow was low,The deep-set lines of care were plainly seenUpon its unresponsive, darkened mien.Pluck out that idol by thy side!—just oneTremendous lurch I gave—the deed was, done,And out upon the court my idol fellA shattered mass; this broke the painful spell.The truth I saw—my idol, sere and grim,Was self; and in the morning shadows dimSweet 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 freeTo love my neighbor as myself—yea, more,For self destroyed, which claimed my love before,Was gone—the more of love could I bestowUpon 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 distressHad found at last its native nothingness.

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