Rags and Robes

by Arthur Guiterman

Arthur Guiterman

"Hark, hark!
The dogs do bark;
Beggars are coming to town:
Some in rags,
Some in tags,
And some in velvet gowns!"
Coming, coming always!
Crowding into earth;
Seizing on this human life,
Beggars from the birth.
Some in patent penury;
Some, alas! in shame;
And some in fading velvet
Of hereditary fame;
But all in deep, appeaseless want,
As mendicants to live;
And go beseeching through the world,
For what the world may give.
Beggars, beggars, all of us!
Expectants from our youth:
With hands outstretched, and asking alms
Of Hope and Love and Truth.
Nor, verily, doth he escape
Who, wrapt in cold contempt,
Denies alike to give or take,
And dreams himself exempt;
Who never, in appeal to man,
Nor in a prayer to Heaven,
Will own that aught he doth desire,
Or ask that aught be given.
Whose human heart a stoic pride
Folds as a velvet pall;
Yet hides a meagreness within,
Worse beggary than all!
Coming, coming always!
And the bluff Apostle waits
As the throng pours upward from the earth
To Heaven's eternal gates.
In shreds of torn affection,
In passion-rended rags;
While scarcely at the portal
The great procession flags;
For the pillared doors of glory
On their hinges hand awide;
Where each asking soul may enter,
And at last be satisfied!
But a cold, calm shade arriveth,
In self-complacent trim,-
And Peter riseth up to see
Especially to him.
"Good morrow, saint! I'm going in
To take a stroll, you know;
Not that I want for anything-
But just to see the show!"
"Hold!" thunders out the warden,
"Be pleased to pause a bit!
For seats celestial, let me say,
You're not aparelled fit:
Yonder's the brazen door that leads
Spectators to the pit!
Whatever may be thought on earth,
We've other rules in heaven;
And only poverty confessed
Finds free admittance given!"

Last updated January 14, 2019