Extract: The Hermit of Carmel

KNIGHT. Fear nothing, holy man. I am a Christian
Although no saint, but sinful more than thou
Who in the desert livest near to God.
My sword is stained with blood, my heart is rash,
And if my youth is free from foul dishonour
‘T is God’s good mercies hedge my wayward days
And marvellously guide me through the world.
But thou art surely wise. In solitude
The mind of the Most High possesseth men,
And they whom sorrow chaseth from the world
Learn in their grief the purposes of heaven.
God’s hand appears in this, that here I find thee
To shrive me, father. Many months I roam
Through heathen wilds in sorry need of shrift.
Who knows if in some luckless fray to-morrow
I bite the dust, or in that golden sea
Perish unknelled and far from Christendom?
A soldier’s soul should be like his bright blade
Ready to unsheathe.