Outward Man

oldmanThis way a silhouette before heaven’s smile
That way a solitary shadow upon prison walls
August yet base
Is the profile of man.

Once majestic lips, nose and brow
Faced Life Himself;
Mind to mind, spirit to spirit,
Heart to heart;
Now, with clay untempered
His greatest aspirations are stillborn.

His veil of beauty creased and stained,
His voice reeks of the tomb.
With a loveless heart
And divided mind,
He coughs in holy air
But maintains his arrogance.

His desires are a wineskin with holes
Stretched the more the skin is filled
With intoxicating counterfeits
To make him forget the unforgettable
For a time. But the holes enlarge.

His strength is drained
As within, without,
Truth is ridiculed,
Wisdom ignored,
Order confused
And beauty twisted.
The promise is gone.

His marble eyes see dear ones,
Old, some young,
Devoured by a so-called natural end.
He seeks some reason
For each pain, each death,
But tragedy is mute.

When frivolity fails
And despair is undisguised,
He must resign all hope,
Seeking cowardly death
Or resign himself
To the Redeemer.

With God’s travail
He can rise with new feet
And has new arms to carry
His hated life-companion:
The granite heart,
The sordid sickbed,
And no longer need lie thereupon
By pity’s pool.

When he dies,
Let it be by sword as a man
And not asleep with hopeless words
Across his fractured brow.

Whether those once noble features
Breathe blood or final vapour,
Let the outward man,
Through the inward birth,
At least go out
With kindly eyes,
A voice well worn for God,
And smiling lips
Wet with heaven’s dew.

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