WHAT IS FAITH.
What thing is faith? Ask thou the gleesome boy
Who for the first time breasts the buoyant wave;
'Tis faith that leads him with adventurous joy
To follow where they plunge, his comrades brave.
Ask thou the boor who eats and drinks and sleeps,
And loves and hates and hopes, and fears and prays,
Fishes and fowls, and all that silence keeps,
And, where life's sign-post points his path, obeys.
Or ask the sage, with subtle-searching looks,
Well trained all things in heaven and earth to scan;
Or ask the scholar primed with Vedic books;
All live by faith of what is best in man.
Or him sharp-eyed, with fine atomic science,
The loves and hates of lively dust pursuing;
Who tortures Nature with all strange appliance
To drag to light the secret of her doing.
Ask thou the captain who with guess sublime
Mapped forth new worlds on his night-watching pillow,
And saw in vision a fresh start of time,
Big with grand hopes beyond the Antarctic billow.
Ask thou the soldier who on bristling lances
Rushes undaunted, breathing valorous breath,
And where his leader cheers him on, advances.
To glorious victory o'er huge heaps of death.
Or ask the patriot who, when foes were strong,
And faithless friends had sold their rights for pelf,
Waits till harsh need and shame rouse the base throng
Into the high-souled echo of himself.
Ask thou the statesman, when the infuriate mob
Brays senseless vetoes on his wisest plans;
Unmoved he stands, his bosom knows no throb;
His eye the calm evolving future scans.
Or ask the martyr, who, when tyrants tear
His quivering flesh, with calm assurance dies;
Sweet life he loves, but scorns to breathe an air
Drugged with the taint of soul-destroying lies.
In such know faith, faith or in man or God,
In thine own heart, or tried tradition's stream;
'Tis one same sun that paints the flowery sod,
And shoots from pole to pole the quickening beam.
God is the power which shapes this pictured scene,
Soul of all creatures, substance of all creeds;
Faith intuition quick and instinct keen
To know His voice and follow where He leads.
T. M. S.