Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IV. The Higher Life
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IV. The Higher Life.  1904.
II. Prayer and Aspiration
Exhortation to Prayer
Margaret Mercer
NOT on a prayerless bed, not on a prayerless bed
    Compose thy weary limbs to rest;
      For they alone are blessed
          With balmy sleep
          Whom angels keep;        5
    Nor, though by care oppressed,
        Or anxious sorrow,
    Or thought in many a coil perplexed
        For coming morrow,
          Lay not thy head        10
          On prayerless bed.
For who can tell, when sleep thine eyes shall close,
        That earthly cares and woes
      To thee may e’er return?
          Arouse, my soul!        15
          Slumber control,
    And let thy lamp burn brightly;
      So shall thine eyes discern
    Things pure and sightly;
      Taught by the Spirit, learn        20
        Never on a prayerless bed
        To lay thine unblest head.
Hast thou no pining want, or wish, or care,
      That calls for holy prayer?
    Has thy day been so bright        25
          That in its flight
    There is no trace of sorrow?
    And thou art sure to-morrow
      Will be like this, and more
Abundant? Dost thou yet lay up thy store        30
And still make plans for more?
        Thou fool! this very night
        Thy soul may wing its flight.
Hast thou no being than thyself more dear,
        That ploughs the ocean deep,        35
        And when storms sweep
      The wintry, lowering sky,
      For whom thou wak’st and weepest?
    Oh, when thy pangs are deepest,
  Seek then the covenant ark of prayer;        40
  For He that slumbereth not is there—
      His ear is open to thy cry.
        Oh, then, on prayerless bed
        Lay not thy thoughtless head.
Arouse thee, weary soul, nor yield to slumber,        45
        Till in communion blest
        With the elect ye rest—
      Those souls of countless numbers;
          And with them raise
          The note of praise,        50
    Reaching from earth to heaven—
    Chosen, redeemed, forgiven;
        So lay thy happy head,
        Prayer-crowned, on blessèd bed.

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