Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE BEGGAR AND THE DIVINE, by JOHN BYROM



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THE BEGGAR AND THE DIVINE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: In some good books one reads of a divine
Last Line: Still praising him, and to his will resign'd.
Subject(s): Begging & Beggars


IN some good books one reads of a divine,
Whose memorable case deserves a line;
Who, to serve God the best and shortest way,
Pray'd for eight years together every day,
That in the midst of doctrines and of rules,
However taught and practis'd by the schools,
He would be pleas'd to bring him to a man
Prepar'd to teach him the compendious plan.

He was himself a doctor, and well read
In all the points to which divines were bred;
Nevertheless, he thought, that what concern'd
The most illiterate as well as learn'd,
To know and practise, must be something still
More independent on such kind of skill:
True christian worship had, within its root,
Some simpler secret, clear of all dispute;
Which, by a living proof that he might know,
He pray'd for some practitioner to shew.

One day, possess'd with an intense concern
About the lesson which he sought to learn,
He heard a voice that sounded in his ears—
"Thou hast been praying for a man eight years;
"Go to the porch of yonder church, and find
"A man prepar'd according to thy mind."

Away he went to the appointed ground;
When, at the entrance of the church, he found
A poor old beggar, with his feet full sore,
And not worth two-pence all the cloaths he wore.
Surpris'd to see an object so forlorn—
My friend, said he, I wish thee a good morn—
"Thank thee," replied the beggar, "but a bad
"I don't remember that I ever had."
Sure he mistakes, the doctor thought, the phrase—
Good fortune, friend, befall thee all thy days!—
"Me," said the beggar, "many days befall,
"But none of them unfortunate at all"—
God bless thee, answer plainly, I request,
"Why, plainly then, I never was unblest"—
Never? thou speakest in a mystic strain,
Which more at large I wish thee to explain.—

"With all my heart—Thou first didst condescend
"To wish me kindly a good morning, friend;
"And I replied, that I remember'd not
"A bad one ever to have been my lot:
"For, let the morning turn out how it will,
"I praise my God for ev'ry new one still:
"If I am pinch'd with hunger or with cold,
"It does not make me to let go my hold;
"Still I praise God—Hail, rain, or snow, I take
"This blessed Cordial, which has pow'r to make
"The foulest morning, to my thinking, fair;
"For cold and hunger yield to praise and pray'r.
"Men pity me as wretched, or despise;
"But whilst I hold this noble exercise,
"It cheers my heart to such a due degree,
"That ev'ry morning is still good to me.

"Thou didst, moreover, wish me lucky days,
"And I, by reason of continual praise,
"Said that I had none else; for come what would
"On any day, I knew it must be good
"Because God sent it; sweet or bitter, joy
"Or grief, by this angelical employ,
"Of praising Him, my heart was at its rest,
"And took whatever happen'd for the best;
"So that my own experience might say,
"It never knew of an unlucky day.

"Then didst thou pray—God bless thee—and I said
"I never was unblest; for being led
"By the Good Spirit of imparted grace
"To praise his name, and ever to embrace
"His righteous will, regarding that alone,
"With total resignation of my own,
"I never could, in such a state as this,
"Complain for want of happiness or bliss;
"Resolv'd, in all things, that the Will Divine,
"The Source of all true blessing, should be mine."

The doctor, learning from the beggar's case
Such wondrous instance of the pow'r of grace,
Propos'd a question, with intent to try
The happy mendicant's direct reply—
What wouldst thou say, said he, should God think fit
To cast thee down to the infernal pit?

"He cast me down? He send me into hell?
"No—He loves me, and I love Him too well:
"But put the case He should, I have two arms
"That will defend me from all hellish harms,—
"The one, humility, the other, love;
"These I would throw below Him and above;
"One under his Humanity I'd place,
"His Deity the other should embrace;
"With both together so to hold Him fast,
"That He should go wherever He would cast,
"And then, whatever thou shalt call the sphere,
"Hell, if thou wilt, 'tis Heav'n if He be there."

Thus was a great divine, whom some have thought
To be the justly fam'd Taulerus, taught
The holy art, for which he us'd to pray,
That to serve God the most compendious way,
Was to hold fast a loving, humble mind,
Still praising Him, and to his will resign'd.





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