Posts tagged ‘death’

May 30, 2011

A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief

A poor wayfaring Man of grief
Hath often crossed me on my way,
Who sued so humbly for relief
That I could never answer nay.
I had not power to ask his name,
Whereto he went, or whence he came;
Yet there was something in his eye
That won my love; I knew not why.

Once, when my scanty meal was spread,
He entered; not a word he spake,
Just perishing for want of bread.
I gave him all; he blessed it, brake,
And ate, but gave me part again.
Mine was an angel’s portion then,
For while I fed with eager haste,
The crust was manna to my taste.

I spied him where a fountain burst
Clear from the rock; his strength was gone.
The heedless water mocked his thirst;
He heard it, saw it hurrying on.
I ran and raised the suff’rer up;
Thrice from the stream he drained my cup,
Dipped and returned it running o’er;
I drank and never thirsted more.

’Twas night; the floods were out; it blew
A winter hurricane aloof.
I heard his voice abroad and flew
To bid him welcome to my roof.
I warmed and clothed and cheered my guest
And laid him on my couch to rest;
Then made the earth my bed, and seemed
In Eden’s garden while I dreamed.

Stripped, wounded, beaten nigh to death,
I found him by the highway side.
I roused his pulse, brought back his breath,
Revived his spirit, and supplied
Wine, oil, refreshment—he was healed.
I had myself a wound concealed,
But from that hour forgot the smart,
And peace bound up my broken heart.

In pris’n I saw him next, condemned
To meet a traitor’s doom at morn.
The tide of lying tongues I stemmed,
And honored him ’mid shame and scorn.
My friendship’s utmost zeal to try,
He asked if I for him would die.
The flesh was weak; my blood ran chill,
But my free spirit cried, “I will!”

Then in a moment to my view
The stranger started from disguise.
The tokens in His hands I knew;
The Savior stood before mine eyes.
He spake, and my poor name He named,
“Of Me thou hast not been ashamed.
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not, thou didst them unto Me.”

Words by James Montgomery, 1826. Music by George Coles (1792-1858)

April 2, 2011

For the Living

IF you like a brother here,
Tell him so;
If you hold his friendship dear,
Let him know;
All the roses that you spread
On his bier when he is dead
Are not worth one kind word said
Years ago.

You can help a brother now
If you will
Smooth the furrows from his brow;
You can kill
The despair that’s in his heart
With a word, and ease the smart.
So why stand you now apart
Keeping still?

You can help a brother when
He is here;
He would hold your praises then
Very dear.
But absurdly still you stay
And withhold what you could say
That would cheer him on his way
For his bier.

What, I wonder, if the dead
Saw and heard
What is done and what is said
Afterward,
Would they utter in reply?
Would they smile and ask us why,
When the time to help was nigh,
No one stirred?

“Keep your roses for the living,”
They would say,
“Waste no time in praises giving
Us today;
Strew some living brother’s way so,
If you like another, say so,
For the thing that now you praise so
Is but clay.”

By Edgar Albert Guest