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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Louise Betts Edwards

My Shadow

I DUG a grave, and laid within

Its secret depths one secret sin.

I stamped the earth upon it well;

I left no trace, the tale to tell.

Then from the darksome place I fled,

And turned my face to God and said:—

“O God, I come to serve thee now;

Hereafter to thy will I bow.

This sin must be—I cannot save

My soul from it, so dig this grave.

But there, O God, it hidden lies;

And I will gird my loins, and rise,

Go to my Father, and declare

That from this day his yoke I bear.

Straitly thy law I will obey,

Unswerving walk in Virtue’s way,

Till thou forget that it hath been,—

This buried, unrepented sin.

“Yea, shall my soul, because of one

Deliberate sin, be quite undone?

Shall God forever hide his face,

His mercy hold for me no place?

May I not far behind me cast

Those things I buried in the Past,

And, reaching out to those before,

Serve thee with faithful heart the more?”

Time wraps that day in mists of years;

Upright I walk among my peers.

Honors and riches have I borne;

Plenty hath blest me with her horn.

With zeal untired my feet have trod

The blessed path that leads to God.

But sometimes beckoning Memory lifts

Her darkening veil, and all the gifts

That Fortune in my way hath placed

Are dust and ashes to my taste.

Out of the Past there steals anear

That sin, and whispers, “I am here!

Thou laidest me in ground that bears

No hallowing of repentant prayers.

No ghost can lie in grave unblest;

For thee and me there is no rest.

Thy works, thy faith, cannot avail:

My shadow follows in thy trail.

Between thy sacrifice and thee

Shall ever rise the thought of me!”

’Tis but a fantasy, I know:

Why should despair torment me so?

Yea, I shall smile, when morning breaks,

At fears with which my heart now quakes.

I dug a grave, and laid within

Its secret depths one secret sin.

I closed the grave—and know full well

That day I shut myself in hell!