'A Word in Season'


Published in The Keepsake (1844).


Dickens, Charles



Bibliographic Citation

Dickens, Charles. 'A Word in Season.' The Keepsake (1844). Dickens Search. Eds. Emily Bell and Lydia Craig. Accessed [date]. https://dickenssearch.com/verse/1844_The_Keepsake_A_Word_In_Season.


They have a superstition in the East,

That ALLAH, written on a piece of paper,

Is better unction than can come of priest,

Of rolling incense, and of lighted taper;

Holding, that any scrap which bears that name,

In any characters, its front imprest on,

Shall help the finder through the purging flame,

And give his toasted feet a place to rest on.


Accordingly, they make a mighty fuss,

With ev’ry wretched tract and fierce oration,

And hoard the leaves – for they are not, like us,

A highly civilized and thinking nation:

And, always stooping in the miry ways,

To look for matter of this earthy leaven,

They seldom, in their dust-exploring days,

Have any leisure to look up to Heaven.


So have I known a country on the earth,

Where darkness sat upon the living waters,

And brutal ignorance, and toil, and dearth

Were the hard portion of its sons and daughters:

And yet, where they who should have ope’d the door

Of charity and light, for all men’s finding,

Squabbled for words upon the altar-floor,

And rent the Book, in struggles for the binding.


The gentlest man among these pious Turks,

God’s living image ruthlessly defaces;

Their best high-churchman, with no faith in works,

Bowstrings the Virtues in the market-places:

The Christian Pariah, whom both sects curse

(They curse all other men, and curse each other),

Walks thro’ the world, not very much the worse –

Does all the good he can, and loves his brother.


1844 A_Word_in_Season.pdf



Dickens, Charles, “'A Word in Season',” Dickens Search, accessed June 24, 2024, https://dickenssearch.com/verse/1844_The_Keepsake_A_Word_In_Season.

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