The Promise

A poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes

Not charity we ask,
Nor yet thy gift refuse;
Please thy light fancy with the easy task
Only to look and choose.

The little-heeded toy
That wins thy treasured gold
May be the dearest memory, holiest joy,
Of coming years untold.

Heaven rains on every heart,
But there its showers divide,
The drops of mercy choosing, as they part,
The dark or glowing side.

One kindly deed may turn
The fountain of thy soul
To love's sweet day-star, that shall o'er thee burn
Long as its currents roll.

The pleasures thou hast planned, -
Where shall their memory be
When the white angel with the freezing hand
Shall sit and watch by thee?

Living, thou dost not live,
If mercy's spring run dry;
What Heaven has lent thee wilt thou freely give,
Dying, thou shalt not die.

HE promised even so!
To thee his lips repeat, -
Behold, the tears that soothed thy sister's woe
Have washed thy Master's feet!

March 20, 1859.

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