Fire, sword, or crucifixion
Were lightly borne where heart and mind are sure;
But where uncertainty’s the soul’s affliction
A word or look inflicts a wound that knows no cure.
Can martyrs know what pains we bear,
We who never saw our own true face?
We cower at the execution place,
Doubting all the while we should be hanging there;
Doubting our own disbelief
And disbelieving our own doubt; while he,
Fixed securely to the upright tree,
Suffers, sure of comfort, bliss, and sweet relief.
Reviled, he answers not, but rests
Impaled upon the spike of confidence;
He flinches not from lash of trials or tests;
Barbed tongue unravels not his seamless innocence.
He knows that he is in the right:
He does not swing in anguished oscillation.
The rope about his neck is not so tight
As that by which self-doubt secures its own damnation.
But as for me, how can I know
If black be white or white be black, whose eyes,
Accustomed to the shades of shadow skies,
See nothing but the grays in which I walk below?
I know, O Lord, you suffered much;
Yet at their worst those tortures could not touch
Your spirit’s singleness: how can it be
That you should know the petty pains of such as me?
* * * * * * * *