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Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By Sonnets and Other Poems, Chiefly Religious (1890). III. The Potter and the Clay

Joseph John Murphy (1827–1894)

WHY hast Thou made me so,

My Maker? I would know

Wherefore Thou gav’st me such a mournful dower;—

Toil that is oft in vain,

Knowledge that deepens pain,

And longing to be pure, without the power?

“Shall the thing formed aspire

The purpose to require

Of him who formed it?” Make not answer thus!

Beyond the Potter’s wheel

There lieth an appeal

To Him who breathed the breath of life in us.

When the same Power that made

My being has arrayed

Its nature with a dower of sin and woe,

And thoughts that question all;—

Why should the words appal

That ask the Maker why He made me so?

I know we are but clay,

Thus moulded to display

His wisdom and His power who rolls the years;

Whose wheel is Heaven and earth;—

Its motion, death and birth;—

Is Potter, then, the name that most endears?

To Him we bow as King;

As Lord His praise we sing;

To Him we pray as Father and as God;

Saviour in our distress;

Guide through the wilderness;

And Judge that beareth an avenging rod.

I grudge not, Lord, to be

Of meanest use to Thee;—

Make me a trough for swine if so Thou wilt;—

But if my vessel’s clay

Be marred and thrown away

Before it takes its form, is mine the guilt?

I trust Thee to the end,

Creator, Saviour, Friend,

Whatever name Thou deignest that we call.

Art Thou not good and just?

I wait, and watch, and trust

That Love is still the holiest name of all.

I watch and strive all night;

And when the morning’s light

Shines on the path I travelled here below;—

When day eternal breaks,

And life immortal wakes,

Then shalt Thou tell me why Thou mad’st me so.