by Sean O’Neill

What cheer, if neither head nor heart be in the trim
and nowhere do I find the longed-for over-brim
of tender mercy, or those consolations sweet
that men have welded to their heavenly balance sheet?

Those joys are hidden like a treasure in a field
which I would dig for if I had a spade to wield.
What testament I then would give of love’s embrace.
What witness I would give of heaven’s flooding grace.

But here in wretched sorrow I am tightly bound
by evil chains that every day go round and round
and pin me to the whipping post where I will wait
and hope for heaven’s respite from my sorry state.

I know this may not torture me beyond my strength,
but every now and then I contemplate the length
of all my days and those interminable nights
and wonder whether I can bear such awful slights.

And yet I tarry here and take no fatal blow
but trudge on bootless through the rain and wind and snow.
His hand, I know, extends to me in all my pain.
He weeps with me and says I suffer not in vain.

Hold fast, my soul, and climb aboard this wave-tossed boat
to weather every storm by faith and stay afloat.
For over the horizon lies the realm of peace
where tears are wiped away and earthly struggles cease.

Sean O’Neill was born in Scotland, but has lived in the USA for the past 15 years and is a lay minister of a church in Lansing, Michigan. He has had poetry published in a variety of journals, including First Things, The Ottawa Literary Review, Living Bulwark, Reformed Journal, Clay Jar Review and American Literary. Sean has published 17 collections of poetry and is the author of five novels and four non-fiction books, including the bestselling How To Write a Poem: A Beginner’s Guide. He runs the Kolbitars Poetry Group in Lansing, Michigan, USA.

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