Limitations of Benevolence


Limitations of Benevolence was retrieved from the anthology, Gifts of Genius: A Miscellany of Poetry and Prose by American Authors (1859).
Limitations of Benevolence
John Bauer, Alfred Smedberg's The Seven Wishes in Julbocken, 1907
"The beggar boy is none of mine,"
The reverend doctor strangely said;
"I do not walk the streets to pour
Chance benedictions on his head.

"And heaven I thank who made me so.
That toying with my own dear child,
I think not on his shivering limbs,
His manners vagabond and wild."

Good friend, unsay that graceless word!
I am a mother crowned with joy,
And yet I feel a bosom pang
To pass the little starveling boy.

His aching flesh, his fevered eyes
His piteous stomach, craving meat;
His features, nipt of tenderness,
And most, his little frozen feet.

Oft, by my fireside's ruddy glow,
I think, how in some noisome den,
Bred up with curses and with blows,
He lives unblest of gods or men.

I cannot snatch him from his fate,
The tribute of my doubting mind
Drops, torch-like, in the abyss of ill,
That skirts the ways of humankind.

But, as my heart's desire would leap
To help him, recognized of none,
I thank the God who left him this,
For many a precious right foregone.

My mother, whom I scarcely knew,
Bequeathed this bond of love to me;
The heart parental thrills for all
The children of humanity.


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Return to the Julia Ward Howe library , or . . . Read the next poem; Methinks My Friends Grow Beauteous in My Sight

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