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Mercy Philbrick’s Choice.
To one who found us on a starless night,
All helpless, groping in a dangerous way,
Where countless treacherous hidden pitfalls lay,
And, seeing all our peril, flashed a light
To show to our bewildered, blinded sight,
By one swift, clear, and piercing ray,
The safe, sure path,–what words could reach the height
Of our great thankfulness? And yet, at most,
The most he saved was this poor, paltry life
Of flesh, which is so little worth its cost,
Which eager sows, but may not stay to reap,
And so soon breathless with the strain and strife,
Its work half-done, exhausted, falls asleep.
But unto him who finds men’s souls astray
In night that they know not is night at all,
Walking, with reckless feet, where they may fall
Each moment into deadlier deaths than slay
The flesh,–to him whose truth can rend away
From such lost souls their moral night’s black pall,–
Oh, unto him what words can hearts recall
Which their deep gratitude finds fit to say?
No words but these,–and these to him are best:–
That, henceforth, like a quenchless vestal flame,
His words of truth shall burn on Truth’s pure shrine;
His memory be truth worshipped and confessed;
Our gratitude and love, the priestess line,
Who serve before Truth’s altar, in his name.