James Russell Lowell
A Parable - Poem by James Russell Lowell
Worn and footsore was the Prophet,
When he gained the holy hill;
'God has left the earth,' he murmured,
'Here his presence lingers still.
'God of all the olden prophets,
Wilt thou speak with men no more?
Have I not as truly served thee
As thy chosen ones of yore?
'Hear me, guider of my fathers,
Lo! a humble heart is mine;
By thy mercy I beseech thee
Grant thy servant but a sign!'
Bowing then his head, he listened
For an answer to his prayer;
No loud burst of thunder followed,
Not a murmur stirred the air:
But the tuft of moss before him
Opened while he waited yet,
And, from out the rock's hard bosom,
Sprang a tender violet.
'God! I thank thee,' said the Prophet;
'Hard of heart and blind was I,
Looking to the holy mountain
For the gift of prophecy.
'Still thou speakest with thy children
Freely as in eld sublime;
Humbleness, and love, and patience,
Still give empire over time.
'Had I trusted in my nature,
And had faith in lowly things,
Thou thyself wouldst then have sought me.
And set free my spirit's wings.
'But I looked for signs and wonders,
That o'er men should give me sway;
Thirsting to be more than mortal,
I was even less than clay.
'Ere I entered on my journey,
As I girt my loins to start,
Ran to me my little daughter,
The beloved of my heart;
'In her hand she held a flower,
Like to this as like may be,
Which, beside my very threshold,
She had plucked and brought to me.'
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