Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century
Alfred H. Miles, ed.  The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
Sonnets and Other Poems, Chiefly Religious (1890).
III. The Potter and the Clay
By Joseph John Murphy (1827–1894)
            WHY hast Thou made me so,
            My Maker? I would know
Wherefore Thou gav’st me such a mournful dower;—
            Toil that is oft in vain,
            Knowledge that deepens pain,        5
And longing to be pure, without the power?
            “Shall the thing formed aspire
            The purpose to require
Of him who formed it?” Make not answer thus!
            Beyond the Potter’s wheel        10
            There lieth an appeal
To Him who breathed the breath of life in us.
            When the same Power that made
            My being has arrayed
Its nature with a dower of sin and woe,        15
            And thoughts that question all;—
            Why should the words appal
That ask the Maker why He made me so?
            I know we are but clay,
            Thus moulded to display        20
His wisdom and His power who rolls the years;
            Whose wheel is Heaven and earth;—
            Its motion, death and birth;—
Is Potter, then, the name that most endears?
            To Him we bow as King;        25
            As Lord His praise we sing;
To Him we pray as Father and as God;
            Saviour in our distress;
            Guide through the wilderness;
And Judge that beareth an avenging rod.        30
            I grudge not, Lord, to be
            Of meanest use to Thee;—
Make me a trough for swine if so Thou wilt;—
            But if my vessel’s clay
            Be marred and thrown away        35
Before it takes its form, is mine the guilt?
            I trust Thee to the end,
            Creator, Saviour, Friend,
Whatever name Thou deignest that we call.
            Art Thou not good and just?        40
            I wait, and watch, and trust
That Love is still the holiest name of all.
            I watch and strive all night;
            And when the morning’s light
Shines on the path I travelled here below;—        45
            When day eternal breaks,
            And life immortal wakes,
Then shalt Thou tell me why Thou mad’st me so.

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