Thoreau’s “Prayer” and my Imitation

Great God, I ask for no meaner pelf
Than that I may not disappoint myself,
That in my action I may soar as high
As I can now discern with this clear eye.

And next in value, which thy kindness lends,
That I may greatly disappoint my friends,
Howe’er they think or hope that it may be,
They may not dream how thou’st distinguished me.

That my weak hand may equal my firm faith
And my life practice what my tongue saith
That my low conduct may not show
Nor my relenting lines
That I thy purpose did not know
Or overrated thy designs.


Universal spirit, O hear my urgent plea
For nothing less or more than plain integrity
That I may carry out in deed what in my mind I know
Is true but never comfortable, and find new ways to grow.

And if it is required to abandon obligation
And spend more solitary time in quiet contemplation
Then give me strength and confidence to follow my own light
And cut loose from the need to be approved in others’ sight.

Please let me saunter off with you, really walk the walk
Instead of giving yet another classroom Thoreau talk.
Let it not be that making do will win out finally,
That I cant find a way to write and testify,
That what was learned so long ago stays merely memory
Some idealist delusion better left to die.

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