How can we weigh a million souls
Like sand cast up beside the sea,
To weigh them in the balance
Of our chains, our fears, and our desires?
Low flames, so pale they quench the light,
So cold, they burn like fire.
To make a mark for every man,
A hidden rule, an empty line
That shortens if he cannot walk,
If he is weak, or blind,
If he may someday hinder us
Or meet us somewhere unawares
Be tempted then to steal or spoil,
For him we have a steepened slope,
A poisoned peace, and not a care.
And if we then consume our lives
Unmindful of the hidden toil
Of those that vanish comfortless
Without a thought, without redress,
Burned roots, bruised seeds beneath the soil,
Then when we also take that slope
Perhaps in weakness, blindness, bare,
Then with the One who forms each life
Perhaps they meet us on the shore
Perhaps with strength, remembrance, sight,
Perhaps they will be there.