The Weakling

I AM a weakling. God, who made
The still, strong man, made also me.
The God who could the tiger plan,
In his lithe splendour unafraid—
A thing of flame and poetry—
That Puissance made of me—a Man!

The One who reared His vast design—
Star, atom, system, germ, and soul—
Could fashion forth this tremulous
And paltry little heart of mine!
The God who could conceive the Whole,
Himself blasphemed in building thus.

When I dare look the glass within,
The ‘Mene Tekel’ mark I see.
God made this slinking, stunted thing,
This narrowed face, this futile chin,
Prisoned a soul deliberately
’Neath these blunt nerves unanswering?

I see my fellows strong and proud,
Lustful and splendid with desires,
Secure and strenuous within,
God opulently them endowed,
And lit in them immortal fires;
And left me scarcely strength to sin.

I watch them triumph by, afar,
Crashing through life with crude disdain.
Theirs is a universe so wide,
So keen and rich the colours are
That reach each fine responsive brain.
They are the bridegrooms, Life the bride!

They carry in their veins their fate;
Foredoomed are they to victory.
Their broad brows are a diadem
Of mastery; they but await
Their long determined destiny,
For at their birth Life laurelled them.

They have their chance to win, to fall—
The fighting chance, the deathless hope;
Their fate they venture to assail;
They chafe for ever at their thrall;
They dare with their despair to cope,
Superbly strive, superbly fail.

But I starve with a stunted brain:
My vision is so mean and scant
That every hue it blurs and dulls.
God branded me—this brow of Cain!—
Put in me this heart hesitant,
And lamed me with a limping pulse.

I watch them striding on; they flout
Death even; then my path I see:
The narrow path—the narrow curse.
Ah, wonder, if I dare to doubt
If sin of mine prescribed for me
This mean and niggard universe?

The end that is upon my face
And in my wizened soul I wait—
The end that I shall count for good.
Yet they who pass me in the race
Left me to falter to my fate:
They did not slay me when they should.

But yet He found ‘that it was good’.
Ah! surely in the soul of God
For me some kindly pity is?
Or else I wonder how He could
Raise me—a soul—up from the sod,
Lift me from Nothingness—to this!

Yet—thin weak lips and woman-chin—
Some unknown debt to me is paid,
Some sacrifice I may not see.
I expiate some other’s sin.
I am God’s weakling. He who made
The still, strong man, made also me.

by Arthur Henry Adams

Other poems of ADAMS (72)

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