Penn Calvin

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By light of stars or sun,
And of all the good folks of our town
There’s like Penn Calvin none.
He lightly laughs when all condemn,
He smiles when others pray ;
And what is sorest truth to them
To him is idle play.
“ Penn Calvin, lift, as duty bids,
The load we all must bear ! ”
He only lifts his languid lids,
And says : “The morn is fair !”
“Learn while you may ! for Life is stern,
And Art, alas ! is long.”
He hums and answers : “ Yes, I learn
The cadence of a song.”
“ The world is dark with human woe ;
Man eats of bitter food.”
“ The world,” he says, “ is all aglow
With beauty, bliss, and good ! ”
“ To crush the senses you must strive,
The beast of flesh destroy !”
“God gave this body, all alive,
And every sense is joy ! ”
“Nay, these be heathen words we hear ;
The faith they teach is flown,—
A mist that clings to temples drear
And altars overthrown.”
“ I reck not how nor whence it came,”
He answers ; “ I possess :
If heathens felt and owned the same,
How bright was heathenesse ! ”
“ Though you be stubborn to believe,
Yet learn to grasp and hold :
There’s power and honor to achieve,
And royal rule of gold ! ”
Penn Calvin plucked an open rose
And carolled to the sky :
“ Shine, sun of Day, until its close, —
They live, and so do I !”
His eyes are clear as they were kissed
By some unrisen dawn ;
Our grave and stern philanthropist
Looks sad, and passes on.
Our pastor scowls ; the pious flock
Avert their heads, and flee ;
For pestilence or earthquake-shock
Less dreadful seems than he.
But all the children round him cling,
Depraved as they were born ;
And vicious men his praises sing,
Whom he forgets to warn.
Penn Calvin’s strange indifference gives
Our folks a grievous care :
He’s simply glad because he lives,
And glad the world is fair !
Bayard Taylor.