A father of women, and other poems/The Two Questions
THE TWO QUESTIONS
"A RIDDLING world!" one cried.
"If pangs must be, would God that they were sent
To the impure, the cruel, and passed aside
The holy innocent!"
But I, "Ah no, no, no!
Not the clean heart transpierced; not tears that fall
For a child's agony; not a martyr's woe;
Not these, not these appal.
"Not docile motherhood,
Dutiful, frequent, closed in all distress;
Not shedding of the unoffending blood;
Not little joy grown less;
"Not all-benign old age
With dotage mocked; not gallantry that faints
And still pursues; not the vile heritage
Of sin's disease in saints;
"Not these defeat the mind.
For great is that abjection, and august
That irony. Submissive we shall find
A splendour in that dust.
"Not these puzzle the will;
Not these the yet unanswered question urge.
But the unjust stricken; but the hands that kill
Lopped; but the merited scourge;
"The sensualist at fast;
The merciless felled; the liar in his snares.
The cowardice of my judgment sees, aghast,
The flail, the chaff, the tares."