This is my task

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by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

When the whole world resounds with rude alarms
Of warring arms,
When God’s good earth, from border unto border
Shows man’s disorder,
Let me not waste my dower of mortal might
In grieving over wrongs I cannot right.
This is my task: amid discordant strife
To keep a clean sweet centre in my life;
And though the human orchestra may be
Playing all out of key -
To tune my soul to symphonies above,
And sound the note of love.
This is my task.

When by the minds of men most beauteous Faith
Seems doomed to death,
And to her place is hoisted, by soul treason,
The dullard Reason,
Let me not hurry forth with flag unfurled
To proselyte an unbelieving world.
This is my task: in depths of unstarred night
Or in diverting and distracting light
To keep (in crowds, or in my room alone)
Faith on her lofty throne;
And whatsoever happen or befall,
To see God’s hand in all.
This is my task.

When, in church pews, men worship God in words,
But meet their kind with swords,
When Fair Religion, stripped of holy passion,
Walks masked as Fashion,
Let me not wax indignant at the sight;
Or waste my strength bewailing her sad plight.
This is my task: to search in my own mind
Until the qualities of God I find;
To seek them in the hearts of friend and foe -
Or high or low;
And in my hours of toil, or prayer, or play,
To live my creed each day.
This is my task.

 
from Poems of Optimism by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1919)

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