The Helping Hand [poem by John O’Brien]

[Editor: This poem by John O’Brien was published in Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, 1921.]

The Helping Hand

When that hour comes when I shall sit alone,
And ponder on the things that were, but are no more,
The while the weird night-breeze’s dirge-like monotone
Is sobbing fitful anthems round the door;

When homing billows moan and croon unchecked,
And no light glimmers on the ocean’s broad expanse;
When all my anxious hopes are safe in port, or wrecked
On sharp uncharted rocks of circumstance;

When I have lived my life, and Time at last
Displays the mottled fate the sisters three have spun,
When the night’s mystic, sombre, starless cloak is cast
Around the naked shoulders of the sun;

I shall be tired, I know, and long to rest,
And o’er the past sleep’s veil of sweet oblivion draw,
To feel myself drawn softly, dream-like on the breast
Of life’s ebb-tide that laps the Eternal Shore.

When that hour comes, and I am drifting slow
To azure distance stretching on, and on, and on;
When earth’s coast-light are dim and blurred and burning low,
And other stars rise other worlds upon;

I shall not fear to meet my Master’s gaze,
Nor, like an idling child, His Searching Presence shun,
E’en though no herald trumpet-voice pronounce my praise,
And earth-won hero garlands wear I none.

E’en though the best the world shall know of me,
When mouldering clay is laid with kindred clay again,
Is but a stone on which the stars shine carelessly
Smooth-polished by the fingers of the rain.

I shall not fear to stand before His Face
And answer for the schemes I reared on shifting sand
Whereon the waves are trailing albs of pointed lace,
If on my way I’ve lent the helping hand

To fellow-pilgrims toiling at my side,
Who, worn and weary, faint and fall beside the road,
If here betimes the blinding, scalding tear I’ve dried,
Or soothed a heart, or eased a gaffing load,

For He shall say “Your name in dust is hid,
No thought or word has earned you immortality;
Immortal only are the kindly things you did —
Amen I say, you did them unto me.”



Published in:
John O’Brien. Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1921

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