Oh I could go through all life’s trouble singing.
Turning earth’s night to day,
If self were not so fast around me, clinging
To all I do or Say.
My very thoughts are selfish, always building
mean castles in the air;
I use my love of others for a gilding
To make myself look fair.
I fancy all the world engrossed with judging
My merit or my blame;
Its warmest praise seems an ungracious grudging
Of praise which I might claim.
In youth or age, by city, wood, or mountain,
Self is forgotten never;
Where’er we tread, it gushes like a fountain,
And its waters flow for ever.
Alas! no speed in life can snatch us wholly
Out of self’s hateful sight;
And it keeps step, whene’er we travel slowly,
And sleeps with us at night.
No grief’s s sharp knife, no pain’s most cruel sawing
Self and the soul can sever:
The surface, that in joy sometimes seems thawing,
Soon freezes worse then ever.
Thus we are never men, self’s wretched swathing
Not letting virtue swell;
Thus is our whole life numbed, for ever bathing
Within this frozen Well.
O miserable omnipresence, stretching
Over all time and space,
How have i run from thee, yet found thee reaching
The goal in every race.
Inevitable self! vile imitation
Of universal light, –
Within our hearts a dreadful usurpation
Of God’s exclusive right!
The opiate balms of grace may haply still thee,
Deep in my nature lying;
For I may hardly hope, alas! to kill thee,
Save by the act of dying.
O Lord! that I could waste my life for others,
With no ends of my own,
That I could pour myself into my brothers,
And live for them alone!
Such was the life Thou livedst; self-abjuring,
Thine own pains never easing,
Our burdens bearing, our just doom enduring,
A life without self-pleasing!
– FREDERICK WILLIAM FABER, 1814-1863
“He that ruleth his spirit is better than he that taketh a city- (Prov 16:32)