Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

(20 April 1826 - 12 October 1887 / Stoke-on-Trent / England)

Faithful In Vanity-Fair - Poem by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik


THE great human whirlpool--'t is seething and seething:
On! No time for shrieking out--scarcely for breathing:
All toiling and moiling, some feebler, some bolder,
But each sees a fiend-face grim over his shoulder:
Thus merrily live they in Vanity-fair.

The great human caldron--it boils ever higher:
Some drowning, some sinking; while some, stealing nigher
Athirst, come and lean o'er its outermost verges,
Or touch, as a child's feet touch, timorous, the surges--
One plunge--lo! more souls swamped in Vanity-fair.

Let's live while we live; for to-morrow all's over:
Drink deep, drunkard bold; and kiss close, maddened lover;
Smile, hypocrite, smile; it is no such hard labor,
While each stealthy hand stabs the heart of his neighbor--
Faugh! Fear not: we've no hearts in Vanity-fair.

The mad crowd divides and then soon closes after:
Afar towers the pyre. Through the shouting and laughter
'What new sport is this?' gasps a reveller, half turning.--
'One Faithful, meek fool, who is led to the burning,
He cumbered us sorely in Vanity-fair.

'A dreamer, who held every man for a brother;
A coward, who, smit on one cheek, gave the other;
A fool, whose blind soul took as truth all our lying,
Too simple to live, so best fitted for dying:
Sure, such are best swept out of Vanity-fair.'


SILENCE! though the flames arise and quiver:
Silence! though the crowd howls on forever:
Silence! Through this fiery purgatory
God is leading up a soul to glory.

See, the white lips with no moans are trembling,
Hate of foes or plaint of friends' dissembling;
If sighs come--his patient prayers outlive them,
'Lord--these know not what they do. Forgive them!'

Thirstier still the roaring flames are glowing;
Fainter in his ear the laughter growing;
Brief will last the fierce and fiery trial,
Angel welcomes drown the earth denial.

Now the amorous death-fires, gleaming ruddy,
Clasp him close. Down drops the quivering body,
While through harmless flames ecstatic flying
Shoots the beauteous soul. This, this is dying.

Lo, the opening sky with splendor rifted,
Lo, the palm-branch for his hands uplifted:
Lo, the immortal chariot, cloud-descending,
And its legioned angels close attending.

Let his poor dust mingle with the embers
While the crowds sweep on and none remembers:
Saints unnumbered through the Infinite Glory,
Praising God, recount the martyr's story.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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