Hidden Sins

John Boyle O'Reilly 1844 (Dowth) – 1890 (Boston)

FOR every sin that comes before the light,
And leaves an outward blemish on the soul,
How many, darker, cower out of sight,
And burrow, blind and silent, like the mole.
And like the mole, too, with its busy feet
That dig and dig a never-ending cave,
Our hidden sins gnaw through the soul, and meet
And feast upon each other in its grave.

A buried sin is like a covered sore
That spreads and festers 'neath a painted face;
And no man's art can heal it evermore,
But only His—the Surgeon's—promised grace.
Who hides a sin is like the hunter who
Once warmed a frozen adder with his breath,
And when he placed it near his heart it flew
With poisoned fangs and stung that heart to death.

A sculptor once a granite statue made,
One-sided only, just to fit its place:
The unseen side was monstrous; so men shade
Their evil acts behind a smiling face.
O blind! O foolish! thus our sins to hide,
And force our pleading hearts the gall to sip;
O cowards! who must eat the myrrh, that Pride
May smile like Virtue with a lying lip.

A sin admitted is nigh half atoned;
And while the fault is red and freshly done,
If we but dropp our eyes and think,—'tis owned,—
'Tis half forgiven, half the crown is won.
But if we heedless let it reek and rot,
Then pile a mountain on its grave, and turn,
With smiles to all the world,—that tainted spot
Beneath the mound will never cease to burn.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011


John Boyle O'Reilly

John Boyle O'Reilly was an Irish-born poet, journalist and fiction writer. more…

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    "Hidden Sins" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 23 Sep. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/22009/hidden-sins>.

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