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Source: A Hill Prayer and Other Poems
Source type: book
Document type: poem
Document title: “God’s Way”
Author(s): Wildman, Marian Warner
Publisher: Richard G. Badger
Place of publication: Boston, Massachusetts
Year of publication: 1904
Pagination: 24-26

Wildman, Marian Warner. “God’s Way.” A Hill Prayer and Other Poems. Boston: Richard G. Badger, 1904: pp. 24-26.
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McKinley assassination (poetry); William McKinley (mourning: poetry).
Named persons
Jesus Christ; Judas; William McKinley; Socrates.


God’s Way


In Memory of President McKinley

“This is God’s way!”—O great America,
On whom God’s hand has fallen heavily,
Read yet again the last words of your chief,
And find therein not faith, not trust alone,
Not simple bowing of a will to God,
But something more—a vision, prophecy!

Our way, could we have chosen, would have been
To let the risen sun go down serene
Into the west, so gradual and slow
We scarce should feel the changes, scarce regret
The sunset passing of an ended day,
Since noon was half forgotten ere night came.
God’s way it was to strike from out the sky
Our noonday sun and leave the zenith bare,
That by the bitter darkness we might know
How bright had been the shining that we mourned,
The light too little heeded while it shone.

Our way it is to shrink from present pain,
From that stern travail of whose throes is born
Some good our darkened vision fails to see.
For pain is evil to our finite thought,
And sorrow a destroying flame that sweeps
To ruthless ruin all our hopes and loves.

To God, our pain is but an instrument
With which to work fulfilment [sic] of His plan.
To God, our sorrow is the holy fire
By which is burnt into our anguished hearts
The lessons that, if learned less bitterly, [24][25]
Had been forgotten ere we saw their worth.
Upon our hearts, America, by fire,
The fame of thy dead hero had been burned;
And in our loss, behold!—a two-fold gain!

This first: we see more clearly than before
How great is simple goodness; how sublime
Are knightly courtesy, a life unstained,
A will that falters not before its God,
A loyal heart that loves its fellow-men.

And this the second lesson, dark and dread,
In fiery letters written on our souls:
Not one man’s sin this crime that blots the white
Of our fair century’s just opened page!
It is the sin of every age and land
Where greed of gain treads mercy underfoot;
It is the sin of every narrow heart
That harbors vice and fosters ignorance,
And sows among its brethren seeds of hate;
My sin and thine, if we have failed to do
Our part to haste the coming of the day
When love shall rule the nations; thine and mine,
If we have set no hand against the power
Of vice and folly, raised no healing cup
To lips that, parched by poverty and pain,
At last have opened to curse God and Man,
And hail the lurid dawn of anarchy!

O world—O stricken nation, hear and heed
This two-fold teaching of a martyr death!

“This is God’s way!” Within the pregnant words
A meaning yet more deep and vital lies;
As if, no longer darkly, through a glass,
But face to face, our dying leader saw [25][26]
The mighty import of God’s purposing.
God’s way, mysterious, past finding out,
Is this: to link foul cause to noble end;
To make Man’s vice, his folly, cowardice,
A blind, unwitting instrument of good!

The cruelty that bade wise Socrates
Put to his lips the bitter cup of death,
Had for its offspring words the tenderest
And bravest that old Athens left the world.
The vile ingratitude, the treachery,
That make the name of Judas a reproach,
Yet gave the work of Christ its final crown.
So with the crime that lately has laid low
Our beauty in high places,—though the sin
Be black and grievous, from it shall be born
A lasting good unto the commonwealth:
Ideals nobler, government more just,
And more of loving kindness among men.

Thus from the two-fold lesson, writ in fire,
Another and a mightier truth is wrung:
Not good alone, but evil, pain and sin,
Have part and meaning in God’s perfect plan;
And evil, under God’s directing hand,
Shall work its own undoing, soon or late,
When that which seemed but jarring dissonance
Sweeps on to perfect harmony at last.

Rise then, America! Be brave and strong
To face the future! raise your stricken head,
And say with him you loved, who lately passed
Through that dark valley where the Shadow lies,
“This is the way of God—His will be done!”



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