A secret cross—The disciple

A secret cross—The disciple

(The Saviour of the World, Vol III Book IV Poem XL)

A Father, who his sons would send
To goal remote for weighty end,
First called, and bound on each the load
Whose conduct safe upon the road
Was their chief care; on each that share
His strength just fitted him to bear.
At first scarce noting that they bore,
Anon the burden presses sore
Upon the weaker of the two.
The father, wise, had out of view
Bound on their backs the load; now he
Doth bring it round, its bulk to see;
Then in his hands doth poise, and sigh,
And to his comrade dol’rous cry,—
“My brother, do but feel the weight!
How walk, sustaining such a freight?
Nay, rather, let me ease on thee
But one end of my load, so we
May go with equal pace!”—Agreed,
But ever tardier proves their speed:

Uneven steps, ill-balanced weight,
Doubles for each his former freight.—
“Good brother, couldst thou bear the whole?
I know thee strong, a valiant soul,
And I so weak! full sweet it were
Thus onward in thy strength to fare!”
Forgetting that he bears behind,
The brother yields, ere long to find,
A wisdom surer than his own
Had given a burden which, alone,
Was all his strength could well sustain:—
“Nay, thou must take thy load again,
It is too much; and why shouldst thou
Go free, whilst I twice-burden’d bow?”
Whereat his brother plains and frets,
But still to take his load forgets:—
“I thought thou lov’dst me; now I know
Thy fondness but a treacherous show!”—
Thus, hearts divided, thenceforth, they
Fall out and strive upon the way.

All other burdens men may share,
And brother, kind, for brother bear;
’Neath Self, must each soul go alone!—
Nor for this isolation moan,
Nor pity thee that none may know
Thy craving Self’s peculiar woe:
Nor sympathy, exacting, crave
For every mood or gay or grave;
Nor entertain thy brother’s ear
With all thy hope and all thy fear;
Nor tell each trifling discontent
Another’s heedless ways have lent;
Nor thy more intimate concern—
How love grows cold, how love doth burn,
Nor how thy prayer doth not prevail—
Make not of secret grief thy tale:
Bear it, an unregarded weight,
With forward step, eye steadfast, straight,
And, lo, forgot, it disappears,
The burden that oppress’d thy years!
Another, tenderer yoke is laid,
Whose heaviness is all o’erpaid
By the sweet sense of service given;
Bearing, thou mov’st to-day in heaven!

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