Verse > Anthologies > W. Garrett Horder, ed. > The Poets’ Bible: New Testament
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W. Garrett Horder, comp.  The Poets’ Bible: New Testament.  1895.
 
The Sifting of Peter
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)
 
A Folk-Song

“Behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.”—LUKE XXII. 31.

IN St. Luke’s Gospel we are told
How Peter in the days of old
        Was sifted;
And now, though ages intervene,
Sin is the same, while time and scene        5
        Are shifted.
 
Satan desires us, great and small,
As wheat, to sift us, and we all
        Are tempted;
Not one, however rich or great,        10
Is by his station or estate
        Exempted.
 
No house so safely guarded is
But he, by some device of his,
        Can enter;        15
No heart hath armor so complete
But he can pierce with arrows fleet
        Its centre.
 
For all at last the cock will crow
Who hear the warning voice, but go        20
        Unheeding.
Till thrice and more they have denied
The Man of Sorrows, crucified
        And bleeding.
 
One look of that pale suffering face        25
Will make us feel the deep disgrace
        Of weakness;
We shall be sifted till the strength
Of self-conceit be changed at length
        To meekness.        30
 
Wounds of the soul, though healed, will ache;
The reddening scars remain, and make
        Confession;
Lost innocence returns no more;
We are not what we were before        35
        Transgression.
 
But noble souls, through dust and heat,
Rise from disaster and defeat
        The stronger,
And conscious still of the divine        40
Within them, lie on earth supine
        No longer.
 
 
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