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



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE ENDURING, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: A misty memory - faint, far away
Last Line: "have god thy friend: he passeth all the rest."
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson Of Boone, Benj. F.
Subject(s): Friendship; God; Life; Memory; Youth


A MISTY memory -- faint, far away
And vague and dim as childhood's long lost day --
Forever haunts and holds me with a spell
Of awe and wonder indefinable: --
A grimy old engraving tacked upon
A shoe-shop wall. -- An ancient temple, drawn
Of crumbling granite, sagging portico,
And gray, forbidding gateway, grim as woe;
And o'er the portal, cut in antique line,
The words -- cut likewise in this brain of mine --
"Wouldst have a friend? -- Wouldst know what friend is best?
Have GOD thy friend: He passeth all the rest."

Again the old shoemaker pounds and pounds
Resentfully, as the loud laugh resounds
And the coarse jest is bandied round the throng
That smokes about the smoldering stove; and long,
Tempestuous disputes arise, and then --
Even as all like discords -- die again;
The while a barefoot boy more gravely heeds
The quaint old picture, and tiptoeing reads
There in the rainy gloom the legend o'er
The lowering portal of the old church door --
"Wouldst have a friend? -- Wouldst know what friend is best?
Have GOD thy friend: He passeth all the rest."

So older -- older -- older, year by year,
The boy has grown, that now, an old man here,
He seems a part of Allegory, where
He stands before Life as the old print there --
Still awed, and marveling what light must be
Hid by the door that bars Futurity: --
Though, ever clearer than with eyes of youth,
He reads with his old eyes -- and tears forsooth --
"Wouldst have a friend? -- Wouldst know what friend is best?
Have GOD thy friend: He passeth all the rest."





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