The Halfway House, Part X     

‘Be kind, be kind, and you will be a saint,’

The holy old men all together speak,

And see the traveller here as Heaven-sent.


But is this kind of kindness permanent

In cells that echo, while the tame monks work:

‘Be kind, be kind, and you will be a saint’?


How has the traveller plunged in classic print

Been welcomed by these Noahs to their ark?

They see the sinner here as Heaven-bent,


And wash and dry his feet, obedient

To Christ, whose words on Judgement Day will shock:

‘It is so kind of you to be a saint.’


By kindness, write the mystics, here is meant

The daily going up of self in smoke:

At wrong times is the traveller Heaven-sent.


The Fathers of the Desert, childlike, scant

Themselves to give the traveller nourishment:

‘Be kind, be kind, and you will be a saint,

And be yourself and be, like us, content.’