Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DOCTOR, by JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY

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THE DOCTOR, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: We may idealize the chief of
Last Line: Do we idealize the doctor some?
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson Of Boone, Benj. F.
Subject(s): Physicians; Praise; Sickness; Doctors; Illness

He took the suffering human race,
He read each wound, each weakness clear;
And struck his finger on the place,
And said: "Thou ailest here, and here!"

WE may idealize the chief of men --
Idealize the humblest citizen, --
Idealize the ruler in his chair --
The poor man, or the poorer millionaire;
Idealize the soldier -- sailor -- or
The simple man of peace -- at war with war; --
The hero of the sword or fife-and-drum. . . .
Why not idealize the Doctor some?

The Doctor is, by principle, we know,
Opposed to sentiment. He veils all show
Of feeling, and is proudest when he hides
The sympathy which natively abides
Within the stoic precincts of a soul
Which owns strict duty as its first control,
And so must guard the ill, lest worse may come. . . .
Why not idealize the Doctor some?

He is the master of emotions -- he
Is likewise certain of that mastery, --
Or dare he face contagion in its ire,
Or scathing fever in its leaping fire?
He needs must smile upon the ghastly face
That yearns up toward him in that warded place
Where even the Saint-like Sisters' lips grow dumb.
Why not idealize the Doctor some?

He wisely hides his heart from you and me --
He hath grown tearless, of necessity, --
He knows the sight is clearer, being blind;
He knows the cruel knife is very kind;
Ofttimes he must be pitiless, for thought
Of the remembered wife or child he sought
To save through kindness that was overcome.
Why not idealize the Doctor some?

Bear with him, trustful, in his darkest doubt
Of how the mystery of death comes out;
He knows -- he knows, -- ay, better yet than we,
That out of Time must dawn Eternity;
He knows his own compassion -- what he would
Give in relief of all ills, if he could. --
We wait alike one Master: He will come.
Do we idealize the Doctor some?

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