The Victory Of Life
by Theodore Tilton
I once made search, in hope to find
Abiding peace of mind.
I toiled for riches -- as if these
Could bring the spirit ease!
I turned aside to books and lore,
Still baffled as before.
I tasted then of love, and fame,
But hungered still the same.
I chose the sweetest paths I knew,
Where only roses grew.
Then fell a voice from out the skies,
With warning in this wise:
O my disciple! is it meet
That roses tempt thy feet?
Thy Master, even for His head,
Had only thorns instead!
Then, drawn as by a heavenly grace,
I left the flowery place,
And walked on cutting flints and stones,
And said with tears and groans:
O Lord! my feet, where Thou dost lead,
Shall follow, though they bleed!
As then I saw He chose my path
For discipline, not wrath, --
I walked in weakness, till at length
I suffered unto strength.
Yet never were my trials done,
But only new begun.
For when I learned to cast disdain
Upon some special pain, --
He gave me sharper strokes to bear,
And pierced me to despair;
Until, so sorely was I pressed,
I broke beneath the test,
And fell within the Tempter's power.
But, in the evil hour,
Bound hand and foot, I cried,
Break Thou the threefold cord!
And while my soul was at her prayer,
He snatched me from the snare.
I then drew nigh the gate of death,
Where, struggling for my breath,
I shook my coward knees in fear,
Aghast to stand so near!
Yet while I shivered in the gloom,
Down-gazing in the tomb,
O Lord! I cried,
bear Thou my sin,
And I will enter in!
But He by whom my soul was tried
Not yet was satisfied.
For then he crushed me with a blow
Of more than mortal woe, --
Till bitter death had been relief
To my more bitter grief.
Yet, bleeding, panting, in the dust,
I knew His judgment just;
And as a lark with broken wing
Sometimes has heart to sing, --
So I, all shattered, still could raise
To His dear name the praise!
Henceforth I know a holy prayer,
To conquer pain and care.
For when my struggling flesh grows faint,
And murmurs with complaint,
My spirit cries,
THY WILL BE DONE!
And finds the victory won!
Source:The Sexton's Tale, And Other Poems.
Sheldon And Company, New York.