Friday, May 31, 2013


The royal feast was done; the King
            Sought some new sport to banish care,
And to his jester cried: "Sir Fool,
            Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!"

The jester doffed his cap and bells,
            And stood the mocking court before;
They could not see the bitter smile
            Behind the painted grin he wore.

He bowed his head, and bent his knee
            Upon the monarch's silken stool;
His pleading voice arose: "0 Lord,
            Be merciful to me, a fool!

" 'Tis not by guilt the onward sweep ­
            Of truth and right, 0 Lord, we stay;
'Tis by our follies that so long
            We hold the earth from heaven away.

"These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
            Go crushing blossoms without end;
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
            Among the heart-strings of a friend.

"The ill-timed truth we might have kept­
            Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?
The word we had not sense to say­
            Who knows how grandly it had rung?

"Our faults no tenderness should ask,
            The chastening stripes must cleanse them all;
But for our blunders--oh, in shame
            Before the eyes of heaven we fall.

"Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
            Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool
That did his will; but Thou, 0 Lord,
            Be merciful to me, a fool!"

The room was hushed; in silence rose
            The King, and sought his gardens cool,
And walked apart, and murmured low,

            "Be merciful to me, a fool!"

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