Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward

(1844-1911 / Andover, Massachusetts)

The Terrible Test - Poem by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward

Separate, upon the folded page
Of myth or marvel, sad or glad,
The test that gave the Lord to thee,
And thee to us, O Galahad!

'Found pure in deed, and word, and thought,'
The creature of our dream and guess,
The vision of the brain thou art,
The eidolon of holiness.

Man with the power of the God,
Man with the weaknesses of men,
Whose lips the Sangreal leaned to feed,
'Whose strength was the strength of ten.'

We read-and smile; no man thou wast;
No human pulses thine could be;
With downcast eyes we read-and sigh;
So terrible is purity!

O fairest legend of the years,
With folded wings, go, silently!
O flower of knighthood, yield your place
To One who comes from Galilee!

To wounded feet that shrink and bleed,
But press and climb the narrow way,-
The same old way our own must step,
Forever, yesterday, to-day.

For soul can be what soul hath been,
And feet can tread where feet have trod.
Enough, to know that once the clay
Hath worn the features of the God.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, September 7, 2010

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