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

By Thoughts and Fancies (1887). I. “One thing I of the Lord desire”

Walter Chalmers Smith (1824–1908)

ONE thing I of the Lord desire—

For all my way hath miry been—

Be it by water or by fire,

O make me clean.

Erewhile I strove for perfect truth,

And thought it was a worthy strife;

But now I leave that aim of youth

For perfect life.

If clearer vision Thou impart,

Grateful and glad my soul shall be;

But yet to have a purer heart

Is more to me.

Yea, only as the heart is clean

May larger vision yet be mine,

For mirrored in its depths are seen

The things divine.

I watch to shun the miry way,

And stanch the spring of guilty thought

But, watch and wrestle as I may,

Pure I am not.

So wash Thou me without, within;

Or purge with fire, if that must be;

No matter how, if only sin

Die out in me.