Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Masterpieces of Religious Verse

Many years ago I found this huge volume of poetry Masterpieces of Religious Verse published 1948 by Harper and Row. Its contributors are thousands and I've turned to this book many times for comforting words, thought provoking, and just plain beautiful poems written long ago but timeless in their message. Here are but a few.

If We Knew - Author unknown

If we knew the cares and crosses
   Crowding round our neighbor's way;
If we knew the little losses,
   Sorely grievous day by day,

Would we then so often chide him
   For the lack of thrift and gain-
Casting o'er his life a shadow,
   Leaving on his heart a stain.

If we knew the silent story
   Quivering through the heart of pain,
Would our womanhood dare doom them
   Back to haunts of guilt again?
Life hath many a tangled crossing,
   Joy hath many a break  of woe,
And the cheeks tear-washed seem whitest,
   This the blessed angels know.

Let us reach into our bosoms
   For the key to other lives,
And with love to erring nature,
   Cherish good that still survives;
So that when our disrobes spirits
   Soar to realms of light again,
We may say, dear Father, judge us
   As we judged our fellowmen.


                                                  If I knew you and you knew me,
                                                  If both of us could clearly see,
                                                  And with an inner sight divine
                                                  The meaning of your heart and mine,
                                                  I'm sure that we would differ less,
                                                  And clasp our hands in friendliness;
                                                  Our thoughts would pleasantly agree
                                                  If I knew you and you knew me. 
                                                                Nixon Waterman, 1859-1944

Hem and Haw

Hem and Haw were sons of sin
Created to shally and shirk;
Hem lay 'round and Haw looked on
While God did all the work.

Hem was a fogey, and Haw was a prig,
For both had the dull, dull mind;
And whenever they found a thing to do,
They yammered and went it blind.

Hem was the father of bigots and bores;
As the sands of the sea were they,
And Haw was the father of all the tribe
Who criticize today.

But God was an artist from the first,
And knew what he was about;
While over his shoulder sneered these two,
And advised him to rub it out.

They prophesied ruin ere man was made;
"Such folly must surely fail!"
And when he was done, "Do you think, my
He's better without a tail?"

And still in honest working world,
With posture and hint and smirk,
These sons of the devil are standing by
While man does all the work.

They balk endeavor and baffle reform,
In the sacred name of law;
And over the quavering voice of Hem
Is the droning voice of Haw.

                             Bliss Carman, 1861-1929