Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward

Three Friends

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Oh, not to you, my mentor sweet,
And stern as only sweetness can,
Whose grave eyes look out steadfastly
Across my nature's plan,

And take unerring measure down
Where'er that plan is failed or foiled,
Thinking far less of purpose kept
Than of a vision spoiled.

And tender less to what I am,
Than sad for what I might have been;
And walking softly before God
For my soul's sake, I ween.

'T is not to you, my spirit leans,
O grave, true judge! When spent with strife,
And groping out of gloom for light,
And out of death for life.

Nor yet to you, who calmly weigh
And measure every grace and fault,
Whose martial nature never turns
From right to left, to halt

For any glamour of the heart,
Or any glow that ever is,
Grander than Truth's high noonday glare,
In love's sweet sunrises;

Who know me by the duller hues
Of common nights and common days,
And in their sober atmospheres
Find level blame and praise.

True hearts and dear! 't is not in you,
This fainting, warring soul of mine
Finds silver carven chalices,
To hold life's choicest wine

Unto its thirsty lips, and bid
It drink, and breathe, and battle on,
Till all its dreams are deeds at last,
And all its heights are won.

I turn to you, confiding love.
O lifted eyes! look trustfully,
Till Heaven shall lend you other light,
Like kneeling saints--on me.

And let me be to you, dear eyes,
The thing I am not, till I, too,
Shall see as I am seen, and stand
At last revealed to you.

And let me nobler than I am,
And braver still, eternally,
And finer, truer, purer, than
My finest, purest, be

To your sweet vision. There I stand
Transfigured fair in love's deceit,
And while your soul looks up to mine,
My heart lies at your feet.

Believe me better than my best,
And stronger than my strength can hold,
Until your magic faith transmute
My pebbles into gold.

I'll be the thing you hold me, Dear!--
After I'm dead, if not before--
Nor, through the climbing ages, will
I give the conflict o'er.

But if upon the Perfect Peace,
And past the thing that was, and is,
And past the lure of voices, in
A world of silences,

A pain can crawl--a little one--
A cloud upon a sunlit land;
I think in Heaven my heart must ache--
That you should understand.

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