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The Church-Builder

by
 The church flings forth a battled shade 
Over the moon-blanched sward: 
The church; my gift; whereto I paid 
My all in hand and hoard; 
Lavished my gains 
With stintless pains 
To glorify the Lord.
I squared the broad foundations in Of ashlared masonry; I moulded mullions thick and thin, Hewed fillet and ogee; I circleted Each sculptured head With nimb and canopy.
I called in many a craftsmaster To fix emblazoned glass, To figure Cross and Sepulchure On dossal, boss, and brass.
My gold all spent, My jewels went To gem the cups of Mass.
I borrowed deep to carve the screen And raise the ivoried Rood; I parted with my small demesne To make my owings good.
Heir-looms unpriced I sacrificed, Until debt-free I stood.
So closed the task.
"Deathless the Creed Here substanced!" said my soul: "I heard me bidden to this deed, And straight obeyed the call.
Illume this fane, That not in vain I build it, Lord of all!" But, as it chanced me, then and there Did dire misfortunes burst; My home went waste for lack of care, My sons rebelled and curst; Till I confessed That aims the best Were looking like the worst.
Enkindled by my votive work No burnng faith I find; The deeper thinkers sneer and smirk, And give my toil no mind; From nod and wink I read they think That I am fool and blind.
My gift to God seems futile, quite; The world moves as erstwhile; And powerful Wrong on feeble Right Tramples in olden style.
My faith burns down, I see no crown; But Cares, and Griefs, and Guile.
So now, the remedy? Yea, this: I gently swing the door Here, of my fane--no soul to wis-- And cross the patterned floor To the rood-screen That stands between The nave and inner chore.
The rich red windows dim the moon, But little light need I; I mount the prie-dieu, lately hewn From woods of rarest dye; Then from below My garment, so, I draw this cord, and tie One end thereof around the beam Midway 'twixt Cross and truss: I noose the nethermost extreme, And in ten seconds thus I journey hence-- To that land whence No rumour reaches us.
Well: Here at morn they'll light on one Dangling in mockery Of what he spent his substance on Blindly and uselessly!.
.
.
"He might," they'll say, "Have built, some way, A cheaper gallows-tree!"

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