Thomas Hardy

(2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928 / Dorchester / England)

The Bedridden Peasant to an Unknown God


Much wonder I--here long low-laid -
   That this dead wall should be
Betwixt the Maker and the made,
   Between Thyself and me!

For, say one puts a child to nurse,
   He eyes it now and then
To know if better 'tis, or worse,
   And if it mourn, and when.

But Thou, Lord, giv'st us men our clay
   In helpless bondage thus
To Time and Chance, and seem'st straightway
   To think no more of us!

That some disaster cleft Thy scheme
   And tore us wide apart,
So that no cry can cross, I deem;
   For Thou art mild of heart,

And would'st not shape and shut us in
   Where voice can not he heard:
'Tis plain Thou meant'st that we should win
   Thy succour by a word.

Might but Thy sense flash down the skies
   Like man's from clime to clime,
Thou would'st not let me agonize
   Through my remaining time;

But, seeing how much Thy creatures bear -
   Lame, starved, or maimed, or blind -
Thou'dst heal the ills with quickest care
   Of me and all my kind.

Then, since Thou mak'st not these things be,
   But these things dost not know,
I'll praise Thee as were shown to me
   The mercies Thou would'st show!

Submitted: Saturday, January 04, 2003

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