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Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)

Religio Medici


              1God's own best will bide the test
              2    And God's own worst will fall;
              3But, best or worst or last or first,
              4    He ordereth it all.

              5For all is good, if understood,
              6    (Ah, could we understand!)
              7And right and ill are tools of skill
              8    Held in His either hand.

              9The harlot and the anchorite,
            10    The martyr and the rake,
            11Deftly He fashions each aright,
            12    Its vital part to take.

            13Wisdom He makes to form the fruit
            14    Where the high blossoms be;
            15And Lust to kill the weaker shoot,
            16    And srink to trim the tree.

            17And Holiness that so the bole
            18    Be solid at the core;
            19And Plague and Fever, that the whole
            20    Be changing evermore.

            21He strews the microbes in the lung,
            22    The blood-clot in the brain;
            23With test and test He picks the best,
            24    Then test them once again.

            25He tests the body and the mind,
            26    He rings them o'er and o'er;
            27And if they crack, He throws them back,
            28    And fashions them once more.

            29He chokes the infant throat with slime,
            30    He sets the ferment free;
            31He builds the tiny tube of lime
            32    That blocks the artery.

            33He lets the youthful dreamer store
            34    Great projects in his brain,
            35Until He drops the fungus spore
            36    That smears them out again.

            37He stores the milk that feeds the babe,
            38    He dulls the tortured nerve;
            39He gives a hundred joys of sense
            40    Where few or none might serve.

            41And still He trains the branch of good
            42    Where the high blossoms be,
            43And wieldeth still the shears of ill
            44    To prune and prune His tree.

Notes

1] Sir Thomas Browne (1605-82) wrote a treatise with this name, "the faith of a doctor," in 1643.

17] bole: tree trunk.


Online text copyright © 2005, 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: The Poems of Arthur Conan Doyle (1922; John Murray, 1928): 138-39. 21473.35.1 Widener Library Harvard University
Publication date note: Songs of the Road (London: Smith, Elder, 1911). See Harold Locke, A Bibliographical Catalogue of the Writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Tunbridge Wells: D. Webster, 1928): 59.
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2005
Recent editing: 1:2005/3/10

Rhyme: abcb


Other poems by Arthur Conan Doyle