The Fools Prayer



  • March 24, 2018  |  [ View 529 ]  | 

    THE royal feast was done; the King 
    Sought some new sport to banish care, 
    And to his jester cried: "Sir Fool, 
    Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!"

    The jester doffed his cap and bells, 
    And stood the mocking court before; 
    They could not see the bitter smile 
    Behind the painted grin he wore.

    He bowed his head, and bent his knee 
    Upon the monarch's silken stool; 
    His pleading voice arose: "O Lord, 
    Be merciful to me, a fool!

    "No pity, Lord, could change the heart 
    From red with wrong to white as wool; 
    The rod must heal the sin; but Lord, 
    Be merciful to me, a fool!

    " 'Tis not by guilt the onward sweep 
    Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay; 
    'Tis by our follies that so long 
    We hold the earth from heaven away.

    "These clumsy feet, still in the mire, 
    Go crushing blossoms without end; 
    These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust 
    Among the heart-strings of a friend.

    "The ill-timed truth we might have kept — 
    Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung? 
    The word we had not sense to say — 
    Who knows how grandly it had rung?

    "Our faults no tenderness should ask, 
    The chastening stripes must cleanse them all; 
    But for our blunders-oh, in shame 
    Before the eyes of heaven we fall.

    "Earth bears no balsam for mistakes; 
    Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool 
    That did his will; but Thou, O Lord, 
    Be merciful to me, a fool!"

    The room was hushed; in silence rose 
    The King, and sought his gardens cool, 
    And walked apart, and murmured low, 
    "Be merciful to me, a fool!"

    by Edward Rowland Sill





  • Poems Category 108



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