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Poems About Mercy

Table of Contents

  1. Mercy by William Shakespeare
  2. The Lion and the Mouse by Jeffreys Taylor
  3. The Caterpillar by Hannah Flagg Gould
  4. Pocahontas by Hannah Flagg Gould
  5. The Fool's Prayer by Edward R. Sill

  1. Mercy

    Earthly power doth then show likest God's
    When mercy seasons justice.

    – William Shakespeare
    Mercy
    by William Shakespeare

    The quality of mercy is not strain'd;
    It droppeth as the gentle rain from Heaven
    Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless'd;
    It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes:
    'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
    The throned monarch better than his crown:
    His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
    The attribute to awe and majesty,
    Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
    But mercy is above his sceptered sway;
    It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
    It is an attribute to God himself;
    And earthly power doth then show likest God's
    When mercy seasons justice.

  2. The Lion and the Mouse

    Few are so small or weak, I guess,
    But may assist us in distress,
    Nor shall we ever, if we're wise,
    The meanest, or the least despise.

    – Jeffreys Taylor
    The Lion and the Mouse
    by Jeffreys Taylor

    A lion with the heat oppressed,
    One day composed himself to rest:
    But while he dozed as he intended,
    A mouse, his royal back ascended;
    Nor thought of harm, as Aesop tells,
    Mistaking him for someone else;
    And travelled over him, and round him,
    And might have left him as she found him
    Had she not—tremble when you hear—
    Tried to explore the monarch's ear!
    Who straightway woke, with wrath immense,
    And shook his head to cast her thence.
    "You rascal, what are you about?"
    Said he, when he had turned her out,
    "I'll teach you soon," the lion said,
    "To make a mouse-hole in my head!"
    So saying, he prepared his foot
    To crush the trembling tiny brute;
    But she (the mouse) with tearful eye,
    Implored the lion's clemency,
    Who thought it best at last to give
    His little prisoner a reprieve.

    'Twas nearly twelve months after this,
    The lion chanced his way to miss;
    When pressing forward, heedless yet,
    He got entangled in a net.
    With dreadful rage, he stamped and tore,
    And straight commenced a lordly roar;
    When the poor mouse, who heard the noise,
    Attended, for she knew his voice.
    Then what the lion's utmost strength
    Could not effect, she did at length;
    With patient labor she applied
    Her teeth, the network to divide;
    And so at last forth issued he,
    A lion, by a mouse set free.

    Few are so small or weak, I guess,
    But may assist us in distress,
    Nor shall we ever, if we're wise,
    The meanest, or the least despise.

  3. The Caterpillar

    For sparing me, I long have praised,
    And love and praise you still.

    – Hannah Flagg Gould
    The Caterpillar
    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    'Don't kill me!' Caterpillar said,
    As Charles had raised his heel
    Upon the humble worm to tread,
    As though it could not feel.

    'Don't kill me!' and I'll crawl away
    To hide awhile, and try
    To come and look, another day,
    More pleasing to your eye.

    'I know I'm now among the things
    Uncomely to your sight;
    But by and by on splendid wings
    You'll see me high and light!

    'And then, perhaps, you may be glad
    To watch me on the flower;
    And that you spared the worm you had
    To-day within your power!'

    Then Caterpillar went and hid
    In some secreted place,
    Where none could look on what he did
    To change his form and face.

    And by and by, when Charles had quite
    Forgotten what I've told,
    A Butterfly appeared in sight
    Most beauteous to behold.

    His shining wings were trimmed with gold,
    And many a brilliant dye
    Was laid upon their velvet fold,
    To charm the gazing eye!

    Then, near as prudence would allow,
    To Charles's ear he drew
    And said, 'You may not know me, now
    My form and name are new!

    'But I'm the worm that once you raised
    Your ready foot to kill!
    For sparing me, I long have praised,
    And love and praise you still.

    'The lowest reptile at your feet,
    When power is not abused,
    May prove the fruit of mercy sweet,
    By being kindly used!'

  4. Pocahontas

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    Behold the proud chieftain, whose indian brow
    Is knit with a fearful intent.
    His spirit untaught in compassion to bow,
    Or a higher on earth than himself to allow,
    On the blood of the white man is bent.

    That chief is Powhattan! His barbarous throng
    With savage decorum have met,
    And in the dark council been solemn and long;
    They're danced the rude war-dance; they've sung the wild song,
    And SMITH, thy last moment is set!

    The monarch has given the awful command,
    The prisoner before him is led
    To the stone, his death-pillow, amid the strong band
    The weapon is up in a fearful, red hand,
    And ready to fall on his head!

    When lo! there darts forth from that terrible crowd
    A female's young, beauteous form,
    Like the flash that breaks out, throwing off its black shroud,
    And leaps to the earth from the fold of a cloud,
    Ere the thunder-peal sounds, in the storm.

    But not, like the lightning, to kill or to scath,
    Comes the bright POCAHONTAS! She flies,
    Like pity's kind angel, with tears on her path,
    To fall as a shield from her father's dread wrath,
    On the victim who under it lies!

    Her arms o'er the form of the prisoner are thrown;
    Round his neck falls her long, jetty hair;
    On his head lowly laid she has pillowed her own,
    While her voice rends the air with its piteous tone,
    As she shrieks—'Father, father, forbear!

    'Spare! spare but his life! 't is thy daughter who cries!
    Her head must receive thy first blow!
    If now by the hand of Powhattan he dies,
    The same shade for ever shall darken our eyes;
    My blood o'er the white man shall flow!'

    The sachem's proud spirit, which lately so wild
    Came forth in the flashes of fire
    That lit his stern eye, of its purpose beguiled,
    Is melted and tamed by the tears of his child,
    Who, weeping, looks up to her sire.

    'Rise, child of Powhattan!' he cries, 'it is meet
    That mercy should conquer in thee;
    My own bird of beauty; thy wing was too fleet!
    Thy glance is an arrow—thy voice is too sweet!
    Rise up, for the white man is free!'

    Now harmless the death-weapon drops to the ground
    From the grasp of the chieftain's strong hand.
    He lifts up his child, and the victim's unbound,
    While sounds of strange gladness are passing around
    Where the plumed, painted savages stand.

    The soul of a princess indeed was enshrined
    In her, who the forest-ground trod;
    And since, by the faith of the Christian refined,
    She has given her brow at the font to be signed
    'REBECCA, a daughter of God.'

  5. The Good Samaritan

    by Adelbert Clark

    The good Samaritan is he, my friend,
    Who reaches down to lift men up,
    Who heals their sorrows and their bleeding wounds
    From Love's divine and brimming cup.
    He does not seek to chide nor even vex
    The fallen ones in bitter need
    Of help, but raises them with gentle arm,
    Nor seeks no favor for the deed.

    He wears a smile when things are going wrong,
    And though he often feels the pain,
    He masters it with Christlike manly grace
    Until the sunshine comes again.
    And lo! he brings that sunshine to the home
    Where only Night and Death abound,
    Where evil tongues alas! are not restrained,
    And wantonness and sin are found.

    The good Samaritan is he, my friend,
    Who imitates the Christ, for men;
    Who lives up to the very best on earth,
    Forgetting what the past has been;
    Who looks the world unflinching in the face
    And heeds the beggar's cry for bread,
    And even faces Calvary's sullen storm
    Where Christ's own blood, for men, was shed.

  6. The Fool's Prayer

    by Edward R. Sill

    The royal feast was done; the King
    Sought some new sport to banish care,
    And to his jester cried: "Sir Fool,
    Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!"

    The jester doffed his cap and bells,
    And stood the mocking court before;
    They could not see the bitter smile
    Behind the painted grin he wore.

    He bowed his head, and bent his knee
    Upon the Monarch's silken stool;
    His pleading voice arose: "O Lord,
    Be merciful to me, a fool!

    "No pity, Lord, could change the heart
    From red with wrong to white as wool;
    The rod must heal the sin: but Lord,
    Be merciful to me, a fool!

    "'T is not by guilt the onward sweep
    Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;
    'T is by our follies that so long
    We hold the earth from heaven away.

    "These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
    Go crushing blossoms without end;
    These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
    Among the heart-strings of a friend.

    "The ill-timed truth we might have kept—
    Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?
    The word we had not sense to say—
    Who knows how grandly it had rung!

    "Our faults no tenderness should ask.
    The chastening stripes must cleanse them all;
    But for our blunders — oh, in shame
    Before the eyes of heaven we fall.

    "Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
    Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool
    That did his will; but Thou, O Lord,
    Be merciful to me, a fool!"

    The room was hushed; in silence rose
    The King, and sought his gardens cool,
    And walked apart, and murmured low,
    "Be merciful to me, a fool!"

    13"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' 14"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."

    – Luke 18:13-14
    The Bible, NIV

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