Lend to my lips, O lord, a key,
With which to unlock the hearts of men.
Make my word become no less mine---
But wholly Thine! In this I may feel secure
That my labor is Thine! Give utterance of
Thy holy silence as a cloak
To my every word, thereby man shall be
Deceived in my wit to Thy knowledge.
I would create my every utterance
To a vessel which may not stay moulded,
But be of an elastic stuff,
Great enough to contain Thee in the measure
Thou wouldst be contained. I would make
No wall about my sympathy, fearing that
The limit I might set would offend Thee,
And knowing that my greatest generosity
Would be a selfish acclaimant unto Thine.
I would present a clean cloth, white, unstained,
Fit e'en to become a foot cloth or a head-swathe,
It mattereth not which, so long as it
Be fit for an office. No thing will I let
Depart from my hand which hath been impelled
By the urge of my soul, save that I stop
For an instant, seeking Thee within it!
If I find a phantom of myself
Stalking through the labor, then shall
I destroy it,
Well knowing that there is no room
For self within a perfect labor.
What poet wears his song upon his brow?
Who would touch the holy fount of His side
From which flows all succoring in a symbol
Of scarlet, and with that same hand
Smite his own bosom? My labor shall be
As a river running to the sea---
And the sea is Thee!
Nor shall the heat of pride dry it;
For well I know that e'en should this be,
Thou wouldst weep, and the stream
Would spring forth anew!