My Senior Gift Pictorally: To Think About

"In Distrust of Merits"

"Strengthened to live, strengthened to die for
	medals and positioned victories?
They're fighting, fighting the blind
	man who thinks he sees,—
who cannot see that the enslaver is
enslaved; the hater, harmed.  O shining O
	firm star, O tumultuous
		ocean lashed till small things go
	as they will, the mountainous
		wave makes us who look, know

depth.  Lost at sea before they fought! O
	star of David, star of Bethlehem,
O black imperial lion
	of the Lord-emblem
of a risen world—be joined at last, be
joined.  There is hate's crown beneath which all is
	death; there's love's without which none
		is king; the blessed deeds bless
	the halo.  As contagion
	  of sickness makes sickness,

contagion of trust can make trust.  They're
	fighting in deserts and caves, one by
one, in battalions and squadrons;
	they're fighting that I 
may yet recover from the disease, My
Self; some have it lightly; some will die.  'Man's
	wolf to man' and we devour
		ourselves.  The enemy could not
	have made a greater breach in our
		defenses.  One pilot-

ing a blind man can escape him, but
	Job disenheartened by false comfort knew
that nothing can be so defeating
	as a blind man who 
can see.  O alive who are dead, who are
proud not to see, O small dust of the earth
	that walks so arrogantly,
		trust begets power and faith is
	an affectionate thing.  We	
		vow, we make this promise

to the fighting—it's a promise—'We'll
	never hate black, white, red, yellow, Jew,
Gentile, Untouchable.'  We are
	not competent to
make our vows.  With set jaw they are fighting,
fighting, fighting,—some we love whom we know,
	some we love but know not—that
		hearts may feel and not be numb.
	It cures me; or I am what
		I can't believe in?  Some
in snow, some on crags, some in quicksands,
	little by little, much by much, they
are fighting fighting that where
	there was death there may
be life.  'When a man is prey to anger,
he is moved by outside things; when he holds
	his ground in patience patience
		patience, that is action or
	beauty,' the soldier's defense
		and hardest armor for

the fight.  The world's an orphans' home.  Shall
	we never have peace without sorrow?
without pleas of the dying for
	help that won't come?  O
quiet form upon the dust, I cannot
look and yet I must.  If these great patient
	dyings-all these agonies
		and wound bearings and bloodshed—
	can teach us how to live, these
		dyings were not wasted.

Hate-hardened heart, O heart of iron
	iron is iron till it is rust.
There never was a war that was
	not inward; I must
fight till I have conquered in myself what
causes war, but I would not believe it.  
	I inwardly did nothing.
		O Iscariot-like crime!
	Beauty is everlasting
		and dust is for a time.

- "In Distrust of Merits" by Marianne Moore.  Copyrighted 1944.

Last Modified: 13 October 2006 EST