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Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869–1935). Collected Poems. 1921.

I. The Man Against the Sky

2. The Gift of God

BLESSED with a joy that only she

Of all alive shall ever know,

She wears a proud humility

For what it was that willed it so,—

That her degree should be so great

Among the favored of the Lord

That she may scarcely bear the weight

Of her bewildering reward.

As one apart, immune, alone,

Or featured for the shining ones,

And like to none that she has known

Of other women’s other sons,—

The firm fruition of her need,

He shines anointed; and he blurs

Her vision, till it seems indeed

A sacrilege to call him hers.

She fears a little for so much

Of what is best, and hardly dares

To think of him as one to touch

With aches, indignities, and cares;

She sees him rather at the goal,

Still shining; and her dream foretells

The proper shining of a soul

Where nothing ordinary dwells.

Perchance a canvass of the town

Would find him far from flags and shouts,

And leave him only the renown

Of many smiles and many doubts;

Perchance the crude and common tongue

Would havoc strangely with his worth;

But she, with innocence unwrung,

Would read his name around the earth.

And others, knowing how this youth

Would shine, if love could make him great,

When caught and tortured for the truth

Would only writhe and hesitate;

While she, arranging for his days

What centuries could not fulfill,

Transmutes him with her faith and praise,

And has him shining where she will.

She crowns him with her gratefulness,

And says again that life is good;

And should the gift of God be less

In him than in her motherhood,

His fame, though vague, will not be small,

As upward through her dream he fares,

Half clouded with a crimson fall

Of roses thrown on marble stairs.