TESTAMENT for Daniel Berrigan, S.J.

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The best I can offer for a soul that touched so many.

The hero cannot bide this brutish age

Where poet, sage, and prophet are, at best,

Held suspect by a kind of silent rage.

For who can sleep, secure, when some possessed

Unchartered dreams that test the common gauge,

Prodding their souls to some uncommon quest?

Others prized the measured paces found

In plodding on familiar, chartered ground.                                                                            

This evening, Daniel, inward vision sees

Your form advance with calm, intrepid grace.

My questioning mind has asked what could appease

The passion and compassion of your face,

Or set that high-born, brooding soul at ease

Whose common anguish is what’s commonplace:

The dispossessed, the undistinguished dead

Become your gracious wine and altared bread.                                           

Eat heartily, my friend, for eat you must

While we from hunger learn both how and when

To seek your poor man’s table, share your crust

And count ourselves most satisfied of men.

And though strong nations pound the weak to dust,

We’ll walk like Daniel into this modern den

And stand to face the public’s brutish roars

With words that cry Christ’s testament, and yours.                                                                                

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