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Denying not these weather-beaten limbs
The meed of saints, the white robe and the palm.
O take the meaning, Lord : I do not breathe,
Not whisper, any murmur of complaint.
Pain heap'd ten-hundred-fold to this, were still
Less burthen, by ten-hundred-fold, to bear,
Than were those lead-like tons of sin, that crush'd
My spirit flat before thee.
O Lord, Lord, Thou knowest I bore this better at the first, For I was strong and hale of body then; And tho' my teeth, which now are dropt away, Would chatter with the cold, and all my beard Was tagg’d with icy fringes in the moon, I drown'd the whoopings of the owl with sound Of pious hymns and psalms, and sometimes saw An angel stand and watch me, as I sang. Now am I feeble grown; my end draws nigh ; I hope my end draws nigh : half deaf I am, So that I scarce can hear the people hum About the column's base, and almost blind, And scarce can recognise the fields I know; And both my thighs are rotted with the dew; Yet cease I not to clamour and to cry, While my stiff spine can hold my weary head, Till all my limbs drop piecemeal from the stone, flave mercy, mercy : take away my sin.
O Jesus, if thou wilt not save my soul,
Who may be saved ? who is it may be saved ?
Who may be made a saint, if I fail here?
Show me the man hath suffer'd more than I.
For did not all thy martyrs die one death?
For either they were stoned, or crucified,
Or burn'd in fire, or boil'd in oil, or sawn
In twain beneath the ribs; but I die here
To-day, and whole years long, a life of death.
Bear witness, if I could have found a way
(And heedfully I sifted all my thought)
More slowly-painful to subdue this home
Of sin, my flesh, which I despise and hate,
I had not stinted practice, O my God.
For not alone this pillar-punishment,
Not this alone I bore : but while I lived
In the white convent down the valley there,
For many weeks about my loins I wore
The rope that haled the buckets from the well,
Twisted as tight as I could knot the noose ;
And spake not of it to a single soul,
Until the ulcer, eating thro' my skin,
Betray'd my secret penance, so that all
My brethren marvell’d greatly. More than this
I bore, whereof, O God, thou knowest all.
Three winters, that my soul might grow to thee, I lived up there on yonder mountain side. My right leg chain’d into the crag, I lay Pent in a roofless close of ragged stones ;
Inswathed sometimes in wandering mist, and twice
Black'd with thy branding thunder, and sometimes
Sucking the damps for drink, and eating not,
Except the spare chance-gift of those that came
To touch my body and be heal’d, and live :
And they say then that I work'd miracles,
Whereof my fame is loud amongst mankind,
Cured lameness, palsies, cancers. Thou, O God,
Knowest alone whether this was or no.
Have mercy, mercy ; cover all my sin.
Then, that I might be more alone with thee,
Three years I lived upon a pillar, high
Six cubits, and three years on one of twelve ;'
And twice three years I crouch'd on one that rose
Twenty by measure ; last of all, I grew
Twice ten long weary weary years to this,
That numbers forty cubits from the soil.
I think that I have borne as much as this —
Or else I dream—and for so long a time,
If I may measure time by yon slow light,
And this high dial, which my sorrow crowns-
So much—even so.
And yet I know not well,
For that the evil ones come here, and say,
“ Fall down, O Simeon: thou hast suffer'd long
For ages and for ages !" then they prate
Of penances I cannot have gone thro',
Perplexing me with lies ; and oft I fall,
Maybe for months, in such blind lethargies,
That Heaven, and Earth, and Time are choked.
Bethink thee, Lord, while thou and all the saints
Enjoy themselves in heaven, and men on earth
House in the shade of comfortable roofs,
Sit with their wives by fires, eat wholesome food,
And wear warm clothes, and even beasts have stalls,
I, 'tween the spring and downfall of the light,
Bow down one thousand and two hundred times,
To Christ, the Virgin Mother, and the Saints ;
Or in the night, after a little sleep,
I wake : the chill stars sparkle ; I am wet
With drenching dews, or stiff with crackling frost.
I wear an undress'd goatskin on my back;
A grazing iron collar grinds my neck;
And in my weak, lean arms I lift the cross,
And strive and wrestle with thee till I die :
O mercy, mercy! wash away my sin.
O Lord, thou knowest what a man I am ; A sinful man, conceived and born in sin : 'Tis their own doing ; this is none of mine ; Lay it not to me. Am I to blame for this, That here come those that worship me ? Ha! ha! They think that I am somewhat. What am I ? The silly people take me for a saint, And bring me offerings of fruit and flowers : And I, in truth (thou wilt bear witness here)
Have all in all endured as much, and more
Than many just and holy men, whose names
Are register'd and calendar'd for saints.
Good people, you do ill to kneel to me.
What is it I can have done to merit this ?
I am a sinner viler than you all.
It may be I have wrought some miracles,
And cured some halt and maim'd; but what of that ?
It may be, no one, even among the saints,
May match his pains with mine ; but what of that ?
Yet do not rise ; for you may look on me,
And in your looking you may kneel to God.
Speak ! is there any of you halt or maim'd ?
I think you know I have some power with Heaven
From my long penance : let him speak his wish.
Yes, I can heal him. Power goes forth from me. They say that they are heal’d. Ah, hark! they shout “St. Simeon Stylites.” Why, if so, God reaps a harvest in me. O my soul, God reaps a harvest in thee. If this be, Can I work miracles and not be saved ? This is not told of any. They were saints. It cannot be but that I shall be saved ; Yea, crown'd a saint. They shout, “ Behold a saint!” And lower voices saint me from above. Courage, St. Simeon! This dull chrysalis Cracks into shining wings, and hope ere death Spreads more and more and more, that God hath now