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by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

   When from the prison of its body free,
   My soul shall soar, before it goes to Thee,
   Thou great Creator, give it power to know
   The language of all sad, dumb things below.
   And let me dwell a season still on earth
   Before I rise to some diviner birth:
   Invisible to men, yet seen and heard,
   And understood by sorrowing beast and bird—
   Invisible to men, yet always near,
   To whisper counsel in the human ear:
   And with a spell to stay the hunter’s hand
   And stir his heart to know and understand;
   To plant within the dull or thoughtless mind
   The great religious impulse to be kind.

   Before I prune my spirit wings and rise
   To seek my loved ones in their paradise,
   Yea! even before I hasten on to see
   That lost child’s face, so like a dream to me,
   I would be given this intermediate role,
   And carry comfort to each poor, dumb soul:
   And bridge man’s gulf of cruelty and sin
   By understanding of his lower kin.
   ’Twixt weary driver and the straining steed
   On wings of mercy would my spirit speed.
   And each should know, before his journey’s end,
   That in the other dwelt a loving friend.
   From zoo and jungle, and from cage and stall,
   I would translate each inarticulate call,
   Each pleading look, each frenzied act and cry,
   And tell the story to each passer-by;
   And of a spirit’s privilege possessed,
   Pursue indifference to its couch of rest,
   And whisper in its ear until in awe
   It woke and knew God’s all-embracing law
   Of Universal Life—the One in All.

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   Lord, let this mission to my lot befall.


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