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Short poem

Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy (1883-1929)

Missing -- Believed Killed: On reading a Mother's letter

              1'Twere heaven enough to fill my heart
              2    If only one would stay,
              3Just one of all the million joys
              4    God gives to take away.

              5If I could keep one golden dawn,
              6    The splendour of one star,
              7One silver glint of yon bird's wing
              8    That flashes from afar;

              9If I could keep the least of things
            10    That make me catch my breath
            11To gasp with wonder at God's world
            12    And hold it back from death,

            13It were enough; but death forbids.
            14    The sunset flames to fade,
            15The velvet petals of this rose
            16    Fall withered -- brown -- decayed.

            17She only asked to keep one thing,
            18    The joy light in his eyes:
            19God has not even let her know
            20    Where his dead body lies.

            21O grave, where is Thy victory?
            22    O death, where is Thy sting?
            23Thy victory is ev'rywhere,
            24    Thy sting's in ev'rything.


22] See 1 Corinthians 15: 51-57.

Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Rev. Studdert Kennedy, M.C., C.F. ("Woodbine Willy"), More Rough Rhymes of a Padre (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1919): 88-89. 1919 (5) 168 Cambridge University Library
First publication date: 1919
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2003
Recent editing: 1:2003/8/10

Rhyme: abcb

Other poems by Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy