A New Ballad of Charity

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A New Ballad of Charityse
written by John Drinkwater
Seeds of Time, 1921 Link to further information




God knows how time shall use me yet.
For I with brain too wise have known
A world corrupt, nor can forget
Some evil there as still my own –
Poor griefs henceforth may be alone
My calendars to reckon by,
But in my empires overthrown
I'll keep a heart of charity.

Wronged, and wrong doing, still I'll pray
For gentleness to all my kind,
So soon to-morrow strikes to-day.
And then a day when all is blind.
And the vainglory of the mind
Passes, and all together lie
Where nothing is but hope to find
The excellence of charity.

There is no virtue in us all
But keeps with sin for housefellow,
And, when the blade of death shall fall,
Starveling and naked must we go;
And none of all shall warrant show
To save him from damnation by,
But only this – 'Dear God, you owe
All that I dealt of charity.'

And, O you English, let us make
Our hearts a little wise to-day,
And learn for best religion's sake
To walk awhile the homeward way.
Too long we cast an alien clay
And towards a far and fading sky
Too long a pilgrimage we pay –
For there is not our charity.

Since I am English bred, I'll keep
A year and year my journey still
By little Langdale tarns asleep,
Or, with my rhymes on Bredon Hill,
I will go shepherding until
The shires from Severn down to Wye
Are figured messages to fill
My quietness with charity.

And where the yellow-hammer sings
From bramble blooms in Water Lane
I'll make a world of sweeter things
Than are in blind ambition's brain,
And there I will forget the pain
Of envy and the fears defy
That in love's bitterness complain, –
Because I walk with charity.

The primroses of Bagley Wood,
Old apple trees at Piddington,
Helvellyn in his cloudy hood –
Shall I not write them one by one,
The true, the best, occasion
Of all my faith before I die?
For other gospellers are none
To teach me holy charity.

SemiPD-icon.png This work is in the public domain in countries where the copyright term is the author's life plus 70 years or less.