I’m reading a novel that features excerpts from Rudyard Kipling’s poem The Sons Of Martha.
I don’t think I’m familiar with it.
The poem anyway.
I feel great empathy with the sons of Martha here described.
I aspire to remember I’m a son of Mary.
And to remember that contra to Kipling’s contention the burden of the sons of Mary does not fall to the sons of Martha (though we’re sorely tempted to think that it does), but has been taken by Jesus himself.
The burden we feel is not that of others, it is our own burden that we have not yet realised that Jesus has lifted from us as well.
This version is from the Kipling Society, so I think it’s legit.
The Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited
that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary’s Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.
It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.
They say to mountains, ” Be ye removèd” They say to the
lesser floods ” Be dry.”
Under their rods are the rocks reprovèd – they are not afraid
of that which is high.
Then do the hill tops shake to the summit – then is the bed
of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping
They finger death at their gloves’ end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.
To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden – under the earthline their altars are
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city’s drouth.
They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not teach that His Pity allows them to leave their job when they damn-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren’s days may be long in the land.
Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat;
Lo, it is black already with blood some Son of Martha spilled for that !
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.
And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessèd – they know the angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessèd, and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the Feet – they hear the Word – they see how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and – the Lord He lays it on Martha’s Sons !