Janet Hamilton

1795-1873 / Scotland

Be Pitiful

Be pitiful, be pitiful,
Pity the weak and worn;
Pity the outcast vile,
Ever so lost and lorn.
Pity the poor who groan beneath
Poverty's heavy load-
Treading with bleeding feet
Life's dark and thorny road.
We pity the heathen abroad-
Woe for heathen at home;
Cry of perishing souls
Into our ears has come.
Brothers' blood to frowning heaven
Is crying from the ground-
Ignorance, vice, and crime
Still increase and abound.
Be pitiful, be pitiful
To children born in crime;
Spawn of the slums, poor waifs,
Cast on the stream of time.
These little bodies, shrivell'd, vile,
Downtrodden in the mire,
Hold each a priceless gem,
A spark of living fire.
Like Him who came to seek and save
The lost, we would rescue;
Seek the lost gem, and light
The dying spark anew;
From the deep pit and miry clay
Where they embedded lie-
Reach down, and lift them up
Ere they shall sink and die.
Pitiful, oh, how pitiful,
To see our thousands sink;
Oh lost, how lost, o'erwhelmed
In foaming floods of drink!
The life-boat launch, and ply the oars
With strong and tireless hand;
Rescue, if not the whole,
Bring all you may to land.
We gaze through tears on ghastly forms
Cast by the stormy waves
On life's dark shores, immured
In timeless, nameless graves.
Oh, pitying Heaven, look down,
And bid the waves be still!
We toil too oft in vain,
Though working with a will.
I asked a learned sheriff, whence
Our crimes and evils flow-
Their causes and effects
You in your place must know.
'I've found,' he said, 'the direful cause
Of such effects, and think,
Exceptions being few,
The cause is ever Drink.'
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