In a comment the other day Leo mentioned this poem by Kipling (not the cake guy, the other one).
The Sons of Martha
Rudyard Kipling 1907
The sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited
that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the
careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she
was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary’s Sons, world without
end, reprieve, or rest.
It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and
cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that
the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care
to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by
land and main.
They say to mountains, “Be ye removed.” They say to
the lesser floods, “Be dry.”
Under their rods are the rocks reproved-they are not
afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill-tops shake to the summit-then is the
bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly
sleeping and unaware.
They finger death at their gloves’ end where they piece
and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry
behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into
his terrible stall,
And hale him forth a haltered steer, and goad and turn
him till evenfall.
To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till
death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden – under the
earthline their altars are-
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to
restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again
at a city’s drouth.
They do not preach that their God will rouse them a
little before the nuts work loose.
They do not teach that His Pity allows them to drop
their job when they dam’-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark
and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren’s
day may be long in the land.
Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path
more fair or flat –
Lo, it is black already with blood some Son of Martha
spilled for that!
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness
to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their
And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessed – they
know the Angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessed, and for
them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the Feet – they hear the Word – they see
how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and – the
Lord He lays it on Martha’s Sons!