Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward

Part Of The Price

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Take back, my friend, the gifts once given.
No fairer find I this side Heaven
With which to bless thee, than thine own
Resource of blessing. Mine alone
To render what is mine to lose.
No niggard am I with it. Choose!
Lavish, I keep not any part
Of that great price within my heart.
Wilt thou the quiet comfort have?
Thine be it, daily, to the grave!
The courage, shining down from one
Whose answering eyes put out the sun?
The tenderness that touched the nerve
Like music? Oh, I bid these serve
Thee, soothe thee, watchful of thy need
While mine is unattended; feed
Thy heart while mine goes famished. Glad,
I give the dearest thing I had.
Impoverished, can I find or spare
Aught else to thee of rich or rare?
Sweet thoughts that through the soul do sing,
And deeds like loving hands that cling,
And loyal faith--a sentry--nigh,
And prayers all rose-clouds hovering high?
Nay, nay; I keep not any. Hold
The wealth I leave with fingers cold
And trembling in thine own. One thing
Alone I do deny to bring
And give again to thee. Not now,
Nor ever, Dear, shalt thou learn how
To wrest it from me. Test thy strength!
By the world's measures, height or length--
Too weak art thou, too weak to gain,
By sleight of tenderness or snatch of pain
--At thine own most or least--to take from me
Mine own ideal lost--and saved--of thee.

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Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward