Collected Poems of John Holmes
Holmes, John A., Jr.
Essay of saints
Essay of saints
As jailed thieves meditate upon success,
And all must find the missing element,
So is a saint troubled by his saintliness,
His admirable halo with much brooding bent.
That innocence of heart in which he moves,
That effortless patience carrying the day,
That selfless grief at grief of those he loves,
Dooms him to sainthood, and no need to pray.
But his monotonous goodness maddens us
Whose image in his mirror looms in blurred
Frustrated outline as we pass and press,
Hating his name, hating his mildest word.
Pity the saint who pities imperfect earth
On which he walks in light a little whi1e.
He never weighs end cannot know his worth,
But is astonished at the greed, the guile,
The hard realistic eye that looks at him
And sees him foolish. He goes hurt and harmed
Into himself, but there the sun seems dim.
God blazes on him but he is not warmed.
Some ghosts, they may, deplore their ghostliness,
Wail and complain and weary of their haunting.
Hard fate, to wander always at a loss,
To want and not know how to tell their wanting.
So saints are sad of the world and wonder why,
Tired after the two miles with him who asked for one,
Bruised by the rain of I, I, and me, and my,
Torn between possibilities and the little done.
A bell rings the tone to which its mouth was cast,
A ship shears water at its builder's speed,
The hammer strikes its weight, the boy grows fast,
And a saint of selves in himself is never freed.
Let thieves, chemists, ships, and shouldering boys
Be doomed to stretch and more as they were meant.
Who suffers his weather, savors jails and joys,
If not the saint when told he is a saint?
The world streams toward him with its sun and pain,
To drive all or drown all. Forward in the flood,
He flows forward with it, for a time a stain
On the waters, the color his or ours as he could.
This is a most serious occupation, rare
The man who makes it his. Rigor without rules,
Daring in doubt, no pay, and endless care,
And sufferance not gladly of himself and fools-
Who'd waste his love the crazy way the world
Wears, murders, spoils, and rubs itself to dust?
The born saint, for so his unborn body curled.
The family, citizen saint, because he must.