A Preacher

"Lest that by any means
When I have preached to others I myself
Should be a castaway." If some one now
Would take that text and preach to us that preach, --
Some one who could forget his truths were old
And what were in a thousand bawling mouths
While they filled his -- some one who could so throw
His life into the old dull skeletons
Of points and morals, inferences, proofs,
Hopes, doubts, persuasions, all for time untold
Worn out of the flesh, that one could lose from mind
How well one knew his lesson, how oneself
Could with another, may be choicer, style
Enforce it, treat it from another view
And with another logic -- some one warm
With the rare heart that trusts itself and knows
Because it loves -- yes such a one perchance,
With such a theme, might waken me as I
Have wakened others, I who am no more
Than steward of an eloquence God gives
For others' use not mine. But no one bears
Apostleship for us. We teach and teach
Until, like drumming pedagogues, we lose
The thought that what we teach has higher ends
Than being taught and learned. And if a man
Out of ourselves should cry aloud, "I sin,
And ye are sinning, all of us who talk
Our Sunday half-hour on the love of God,
Trying to move our peoples, then go home
To sleep upon it and, when fresh again,
To plan another sermon, nothing moved,
Serving our God like clock-work sentinels,
We who have souls ourselves," why I like the rest
Should turn in anger: "Hush this charlatan
Who, in his blatant arrogance, assumes
Over us who know our duties."
Yet that text
Which galls me, what a sermon might be made
Upon its theme! How even I myself
Could stir some of our priesthood! Ah! but then
Who would stir me?
I know not how it is;
I take the faith in earnest, I believe,
Even at happy times I think I love,
I try to pattern me upon the type
My Master left us, am no hypocrite
Playing my soul against good men's applause,
Nor monger of the Gospel for a cure,
But serve a Master whom I chose because
It seemed to me I loved him, whom till now
My longing is to love; and yet I feel
A falseness somewhere clogging me. I seem
Divided from myself; I can speak words
Of burning faith and fire myself with them;
I can, while upturned faces gaze on me
As if I were their Gospel manifest,
Break into unplanned turns as natural
As the blind man's cry for healing, pass beyond
My bounded manhood in the earnestness
Of a messenger from God. And then I come
And in my study's quiet find again
The callous actor who, because long since
He had some feelings in him like the talk
The book puts in his mouth, still warms his pit
And even, in his lucky moods, himself
With the passion of his part, but lays aside
His heroism with his satin suit
And thinks "the part is good and well conceived
And very natural -- no flaw to find" --
And then forgets it.
Yes I preach to others
And am -- I know not what -- a castaway?
No, but a man who feels his heart asleep,
As he might feel his hand or foot. The limb
Will not awake without a little shock,
A little pain perhaps, a nip or blow,
And that one gives and feels the waking pricks.
But for one's heart I know not. I can give
No shock to make mine prick. I seem to be
Just such a man as those who claim the power
Or have it, (say, to serve the thought), of willing
That such a one should break an iron bar,
And such a one resist the strength of ten,
And the thing is done, yet cannot will themselves
One least small breath of power beyond the wont.
To-night now I might triumph. Not a breath
But shivered when I pictured the dead soul
Awaking when the body dies to know
Itself has lived too late, and drew in long
With yearning when I shewed how perfect love
Might make Earth's self be but an earlier Heaven.
And I may say and not be over-bold,
Judging from former fruits, "Some one to-night
Has come more near to God, some one has felt
What it may mean to love Him, some one learned
A new great horror against death and sin,
Some one at least -- it may be many." Yet --
And yet -- Why I the preacher look for God,
Saying "I know thee Lord, what I should see
If I could see thee as some can on earth,
But I do not see thee," and "I know thee Lord,
What loving thee is like, as if I loved,
But I cannot love thee." And even with the thought
The answer grows "Thine is the greater sin,"
And I stand self-co
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"A Preacher" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 8 Dec. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/4064/a-preacher>.

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