Within my heart a worm had long been hid.
I knew it not when I went down and chid
Because some servants of my inner house
Had not, I found, of late been doing well,
But then I spied the horror hideous
Dwelling defiant in the inmost cell--
No, not the inmost, for there God did dwell!
But the small monster, softly burrowing,
Near by God's chamber had made itself a den,
And lay in it and grew, the noisome thing!
Aghast I prayed--'twas time I did pray then!
But as I prayed it seemed the loathsome shape
Grew livelier, and did so gnaw and scrape
That I grew faint. Whereon to me he said--
Some one, that is, who held my swimming head,
"Lo, I am with thee: let him do his worst;
The creature is, but not his work, accurst;
Thou hating him, he is as a thing dead."
Then I lay still, nor thought, only endured.
At last I said, "Lo, now I am inured
A burgess of Pain's town!" The pain grew worse.
Then I cried out as if my heart would break.
But he, whom, in the fretting, sickening ache,
I had forgotten, spoke: "The law of the universe
Is this," he said: "Weakness shall be the nurse
Of strength. The help I had will serve thee too."
So I took courage and did bear anew.
At last, through bones and flesh and shrinking skin,
Lo, the thing ate his way, and light came in,
And the thing died. I knew then what it meant,
And, turning, saw the Lord on whom I leant.