Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, REMARKS TO THE BACK OF A PEW, by WILLIAM ROSE BENET

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

REMARKS TO THE BACK OF A PEW, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: All this whining and repining!
Last Line: It should be!
Subject(s): Public Worship; Church Attendance

All this whining and repining!
Oh good lack,
All this blue-nosed, dismal wailing
That the fount of faith is failing!
Have ye all gone sick and ailing,
Good my masters? Give me back
But a laugh against my laughter,
And forget a little while
Your much-harped-upon "Hereafter"
In a smile!

From your pigeon-toed religion,
Lord deliver
One who never saw his Savior
As a "model of behavior,"
But a man of might, who gave your
Creeds full many a text to shiver
Into bits your gravest thesis
And your dearest dogma's blight.
You can thank your own paresis
If I'm right.

While you're moaning of "atoning
For our sins,"
Where old women sniff and mutter,
There's bright sunlight through the shutter.
How the wood-birds sing and flutter
Round the church! A wind begins
In the ivy-leaves, all glistening
With the early morning sun.
"Saith the preacher --" . . . I'm not listening.
Have you done?

You're the cynics, with your clinics
On the soul!
While you fumble facts and rumble,
Is it easy to be humble,
When I hear, through all your mumble,
God's own anthems rise and roll
Round the outcast Unforgiven
Yester-morning damned by -- you! --
As the highest gates of Heaven
Pass them through!

Here's my severance from your reverance
For the smug.
While the human's so endearing,
While all nature is revering
One glad God, with naught of "fearing,"
Shall I rock myself, and hug
All my "goodness" safe inside me,
'Twixt four walls and once a week?
God Himself would first deride me,
Saying, "Seek!"

Oh, what psalter round the altar
Of the East,
With wild dawn the winds upchoir!
With what prayer the sunset's pyre
Smokes to heaven! And what desire
For pure Truth that pale, sad priest
Of blue heaven, the moon, illumines
When the candle stars burn bright!
What sweet dreams God sends for omens
Through the night!

There, as ever, I shall never
Cease to kneel,
In God's true church, life, -- adoring
All its wonder, and imploring,
Of His grace, for joy upsoaring
O'er all pangs that hurt and heal.
Teach me such Thy true salvation,
God of strength through joy set free,
As Thou meant'st from the creation
It should be!

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