James Whitcomb Riley (7 October 1849 - 22 July 1916 / Greenfield, Indiana)
Years did I vainly seek the good Lord's grace--,
Prayed, fasted, and did penance dire and dread;
Did kneel, with bleeding knees and rainy face,
And mouth the dust, with ashes on my head;
Yea, still with knotted scourge the flesh I flayed,
Rent fresh the wounds, and moaned and shrieked insanely;
And froth oozed with the pleadings that I made,
And yet I prayed on vainly, vainly, vainly!
A time, from out of swoon I lifted eye,
To find a wretched outcast, gray and grim,
Bathing my brow, with many a pitying sigh,
And I did pray God's grace might rest on him--.
Then, lo! A gentle voice fell on mine ears--
'Thou shalt not sob in suppliance hereafter;
Take up thy prayers and wring them dry of tears,
And lift them, white and pure with love and laughter!'
So is it now for all men else I pray;
So is it I am blest and glad alway.
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