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W. Garrett Horder, comp. The Poets’ Bible: New Testament. 1895.

The Barren Fig-Tree

Stephen Greenleaf Bulfinch (1809–1870)

‘Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and find none; cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?’—LUKE XIII. 7.

YEAR passeth after year, O Lord our God!

Thy mercy spares us, and thy might sustains.

Sometimes we feel the chastening of thy rod,

Sometimes thy love with gentle voice complains.

By turns thy sun hath smiled, thy storms have frowned,

No worthy fruit is ours, vain cumberers of the ground.

Shouldst thou in anger speak, Lord! who could stand

Before thy justice in its dreadful hour?

Who could endure the thunders of thy hand,

What human might arrest thy sovereign power?

Spare us, O God, thy mercy we implore!

Grant to the barren tree space for one trial more.

One trial more! If then we bear no fruit,

O God of justice! who shall longer stay

Thine arm? Behold the axe is at the root.

O let Repentance prune our faults away.

Thy grace, O Lord! in plenteous showers descend,

And bid the rescued boughs with clustering honors bend.