'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.