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The young man in his cell
     Receives his guest
Who all his heart should tell
     And leave there blest.
In quiet company
We shall a marvel see
As every thought shall be
     By that heart known.

To Rome the pilgrims came
     Poor as God chose them.
He calls to each by name;
     He serves and knows them.
Then with his friends he’ll stray
Along the Appian way
In lively talk and play,
     His sweet grace sown.

With all who roamed the street
     The saint would tarry,
Each sorrow he should meet
     Was soon turned merry.
Yet he prayed with the dead
In their stone-chambered bed,
Till flames his great heart fed
     And its life grown.

Who is this fool? they jeer;
     He won’t reply,
For that’s how he’d appear
     So to deny
All claims to holiness,
Which are vain weights that press
On one who’d simply bless
     Poor hearts alone.

For him it was such ease
     To turn to God,
His joyful jests would cease
     And his head nod,
As he passed far beyond
This world of which we’re fond,
And freed from every bond
     His heart was flown.

Who stirs the old man’s room
     Finds him in prayer,
But with his laughter’s bloom
     Leaves pain and care.
Into his company
The great and wretched flee,
As, in this oratory,
     We are his own.

—James Matthew Wilson

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