Article #197 - Stanzas on Superstition



                        Journal      5th mo   1852


            Devoted to literature, News &c.


            Stanzas on Superstition


[This is a rather lurid poem on the dangers of yielding to superstition.]


Then keep fair Reason ever free from chains

Let superstition never hover hear

Till not a vestige of his power remains

To cloud the mind, to fill the soul with fear

...Truth joined with peace, the hope of coming time

Will fill the earth and glory in a reign sublime.



                        Begotry [Bigotry]


Ye adamantine chains of Begotry:

Ye olden creeds of superstitious make

No more ye bind, my spirit now is free.

And by your weight your hateful bonds did break...

[The author says that in his or her youth, named “a holy birth-right in Society -- of Friends?--Twas then the tyrants chains were placed on me.”]


Such is the course of every written creed

From formal quakers to Catholicy.

They form a sect and then in hasty speed

They build a shrine to worship Begotry;

Then ours the only true society

Is soon held forth, all like the quakers, say

It pleas’d the Lord that such a sect should be

That he has drawn them from the world away

And placed a hedge around ‘neath his peculiar sway.

Does God ordain it? does He will that we

Should ever dwell debarred from pleasures here

That social mingling gives? it cannot be...

...And still they say such things to God belong.

Tis arrant sacrilege to charge him with the wrong.

And Oh! to view the young hearts free & warm

Ere creeds have called them to their craven shrine.


[In an essay, K. M. describes a country walk in which he or she realized the way to avoid sad thoughts as we grow older is to reflect on the good one has done.]


[Another essay, unsigned, describes the author’s inner conflict about whether and what to write for the Journal--and arrives at no conclusion.]


[A third essay is in the form of a letter from someone who is visiting near the Delaware River, which he or she describes. It also urges more people’s participation in the Lyceum.]


            Noah in the Ark

            A weary eight months that must have been, when Noah with all his family and every living thing besides was shut up in the ark. For forty days and nights the rain poured and the wind howled over the wide waste of waters, and the beating of the rain and the howling of the wind were mingled with the fearful death-cries of the drowning. Sometimes the ark swept close by the hill-tops where wretched men and pitiful women and children clung together in wild terror, and shrieked for help to him they had so lately mocked.

            As the waters rose, one by one they were swept away, and the dark waves closed over them forever. Wild and fearful cries of animals mingled in the horrid din, and herded together on the highest cliffs might be seen the timid sheep, the wild deer, and goat of the mountains, side by side with fierce tiger, the ravening wolf, and the lion all enmities forgotten in the fearful struggle for life.

            As the waters increased the ark was borne upward until the tops of the highest mountains were covered, and the waves rolled onward and onward, round and round the earth. No pleasant beach wooed them to lave its white sands. No dark rocks rose frowning to meet the shock of the storm-tossed billows. There was no voice nor sound save the booming and hissing of the shoreless ocean, as wave after wave rolled on and on, or whirled and dashed in eddies and whirlpools. There was silence and sadness in the ark, for many fond and pleasant memories of the bright green earth, with its treasures of fruits and flowers, its rosy mornings and dewy eves, were in the hearts of the chosen ones, who alone of all He had made, God had deemed worthy to live. Long after they had ceased to hear the fearful cries of the dying, long after the waves had ceased to dash their mad crests on the mountain tops, the dwellers of the ark were afraid to look forth upon the desolate waste. They had faith and hope. Their trust was strong in god, but they had loved their pleasant homes in the valley; even the memory of the long and bitter persecutions they had endured had but bound more closely to their hearts the dear but erring ones who had dared the wrath of Heaven and perished.


            Faint, Yet Pursuing

[A verse about life as a journey. Those who serve God will be rewarded with “mansions bright of glory...resting towers of love.”]