I see men gaze upon the distant skies
Of ideals inaccessible and vain;
And miss the Holy Way which near them lies—
The hourly conquest over sin and pain.
I see uplifted and imploring hands
Aching with emptiness; I see the cause,
Self-made, of man’s long sorrow; see his bands
Self-wrought, self-bound; I see the broken laws.
Wisdom lies hidden in our common life,
And he will find it who shall rightly ask;
Where springs the fretful fever and the strife
There Truth abides—e’en in the daily task.
Behold where Love Eternal rests concealed!
(The deathless Love that seemed so far away!)
E’en in the lowly heart; it stands revealed
To him who lives the sinless life today.
Wrapped in our nearest duty is the Key
Which shall unlock for us the Heavenly Gate;
Unveiled, the Heavenly Vision he shall see,
Who cometh not too early nor too late.
The glory of the Truth no Future veils
From tear-stained eyes; no Past obliterates,
For toil-worn feet, the narrow, weed-grown trails
Which wind through common ways to joyful Gates.
Where’er we go immortal splendor goes;
But eyes, self-blinded, look and cannot see;
Th’ Eternal Glory shines upon man’s woes,
Piercing the dark night of his misery.
Lo! where the shadowless Effulgence gleams—
In tasks well done, in stainless thoughts and deeds,
In words of love and pity, not in dreams
Of sky-bound glories holding future needs.
Peace cometh only to the peaceful soul;
Love, painless, nestles in the Love-born heart;
Joy springs where self is sunken for the whole;
From conquered sins immortal beauties start.
Our task is with us, and the Path Sublime,
Rising from swamps of self, through Duty’s way,
Cuts its clear course up the steep hills of Time
Unto the splendor of the Perfect Day.
More from James Allen
James Allen was a little-known philosophical writer and poet. He is best recognized for his book, As a Man Thinketh. Allen wrote about complex subjects such as faith, destiny, love, patience, and religion but had the unique ability of explaining these subjects clearly and in a way that is easy to understand. He often wrote about cause and effect, sowing and reaping, as well as overcoming sadness, sorrow, and grief. For more information on the life of James Allen, click here.