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The Knight of God

Heinrich Suso

Acts ix. 16

As the song of him who singeth,

Playing on a harp of gold,

So to me was Christ's evangel

In the days of old.

Thus across the lake of Constance

Went I forth to preach His Word,

And beside me sat the squire

Of a noble Lord.

None in all the ship so knightly,

None so bravely dight as he—

“Tell me,” I besought, “thine errand

Yonder o'er the sea.”

“I go forth,” he said, “to gather

Many a knight and noble bold;

They shall tilt at joust and tourney,

Whilst fair eyes behold.

“And the bravest and the noblest

He shall win a glorious prize,

Smiles to boot, and courtly favour

In the ladies' eyes.”

“Tell me what shall be the guerdon?”

“Lo, the fairest in the land

Sets a gold ring on his finger

With her lily hand.”

“Tell me how the knight may win it?”

“Scars and bruises must he boast,

For the knight shall be the winner

Who endures the most.”

“Tell me, if when first assaulted,

He in knightly guise shall stand,

Shall he win the golden guerdon

From his lady's hand?”

“Nay, right on, till all is over,

Must a worthy knight hold on;

Bear the brunt, and stand a conqueror

When the fight is done.”

“And if he be wounded sorely,

Will he weep and will he mourn?”

“Nay, in place of winning honour,

He would win but scorn.”

Then my spirit sank within me,

And within my heart I spake—

“O my Lord, thus fight the knightly

For their honour's sake.

“Small the prize, and stern the battle,

Worthless gain, and weary fight—

Lord, a ring of stones most precious

Hast thou for Thy knight!

“Oh, to be the knight of Jesus!

Scorning pain, and shame, and loss;

There the crown, the joy, the glory,

Here, O Lord, Thy Cross.”

Then I wept, with bitter longing

Thus the knight of God to be;

And the Lord, who saw me weeping,

Gave the cross to me.

Bitter pain, and shame, and sorrow

Came upon me as a flood—

I forgot it was the tourney

Of the knights of God.

And again I wept, beseeching,

“Take the Cross, O Lord, from me!”

Till a light broke like the morning

Over the wild sea.

Then there spake the Voice beloved,

Still and sweet my heart within—

“is it thus, O knight of Jesus,

Thou the prize wilt win?”

“O my Lord, the fight is weary—

Weary, and my heart is sore!”

“And,” he answered, “fair the guerdon,

And for evermore.”

“I have shamed Thee, craven-hearted,

I have been Thy recreant knight—

Own me yet, O Lord, albeit

Weeping whilst I fight.”

“Nay,” He said; “yet wilt thou shame Me?

Wilt thou shame thy knightly guise?

I would have My angels wonder

At thy gladsome eyes.

“Need'st thou pity, knight of Jesus?—

Pity for thy glorious hest?

On! let God and men and angels

See that thou art blest!

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