[from Collected Works, T.E.Brown]
OFTEN at a wayside fountain
You may see a pitcher stand,
Stooped beneath the mossy channel,
Purple slate on either hand. And the streamlet, never heeding
If the pitcher's brimming o'er,
With an innocent persistence Lavishes its silver store.
And the crystal-beaded bubbles Burst upon its lazy lip ;
But the well-contented pitcher
Does not even care to sip ;
Does not even know that o'er him
There is flowing from the hill
What would fill a thousand pitchers,
And a thousand pitchers still.
Wasted on his gurgling fulness
All its fretting soft and faint,
Wasted all its pretty urging,
All the music of its plaint ! But the streamlet, ever patient,
Ceaseless laves his churlish sides ; For the streamlet has the patience
That in Nature's heart abides.
Even so at God's sweet fountain
Some one left me long ago ;
Left my shallow soul expectant
Of the everlasting flow
And it came, and poured upon me,
Rose and mantled to the brim ;
And I knew that God was filling
One more soul to carry Him.
So He filled me then I lost Him,
Lost Him in His own excess ;
For He could not but transcend me in my very nothingness.
Wretched soul, that could'st not hold Him !
Soul incapable and base
Hardly 'ware that He doth bathe thee
Steeped in largess of His grace !
Puny soul, that could'st not take Him
Torpid soul that feel'st no need ! Perish from before the Godhead,
Let a larger soul succeed !
" Not so ! " saith the God of goodness ; "
1 have many souls to fill;
From this soul a while desisting,
I will tarry in the hill. "Then, when it is dry and dusty,
1 will seek the thirsty plain ; i will wet the mossy channel,
And the purple slate again."