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The Deacon's TaleIn the days of yore uncounted, When men were simple and benign,And truthful fables were recountedWithout craft or ill design,There lived a good and Godly deaconWho preached to all that shared his creedAs he held aloft the beaconOf the virtuous life and deed.He was a much-respected neighbour,And a venerable sage,With reputation forged by labourAnd improved upon with age.He said his prayers in the morningScarce he beheld the rising sun,His withered lips in rev'rence forming,"Praisèd be the Holy One!"And if he was with mischief taken,Plagued by him who lost his way,When he, for instance, loath to waken,Slept through nigh a half a day,Fearing that his sloth may likenHim to the Unholy One,He kneeled before the smiling ikonOf the Virgin and her Son.He lived in modesty and measure,With God, as always, at his right,Guarding him from thoughtless pleasure,Guiding him towards the light.It happened that a fellow FatherOnce gave a grand and lordly feast,
ApotheosisHere standing in a fearsome gale,Cast by the seas onto a shoreWithout a mountain or a dale,With only sands that whip skin soreAnd teeth of rock that seek to rendA bird or beast from bone to bone,And acrid winds his back to bend,Exposed, despondent, and alone, This is a man, this is a man.He toils, wherefore he knoweth not;He lives to shiver in the snowOr lie prostrate when it is hot;Whatever wonders he may sow,He reaps a burr or bramble there,For rains have smothered any crop,The earth devoid of any fare,And yet --- he toils, and will not stop: He is a man, he is a man.He builds a house of wood and stoneTo fend off beasts and savage climes;He tills his earth till seeds have grown,He waits and weathers through the times.His will is firm, his hands are strong,And he endures, with pleasures scarceTo spur him, beckon him