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[162] My brain took fire: ‘ Is this,’ I cried,
     “The end of prayer and preaching?
Then down with pulpit, down with priest
     And give us Nature's teaching!

Foul shame and scorn be on ye all
     Who turn the good to evil,
And steal the Bible from the Lord,
     To give it to the Devil!

Than garbled text or parchment law
     I own a statute higher;
And God is true, though every book
     And every man's a liar! “

Just then I felt the deacon's hand
     In wrath my coat-tail seize on;
I heard the priest cry, ‘Infidel! ’
     The lawyer mutter, ‘Treason!’

I started up,—where now were church,
     Slave, master, priest, and people?
I only heard the supper-bell,
     Instead of clanging steeple.

But, on the open window's sill,
     O'er which the white blooms drifted,
The pages of a good old Book
     The wind of summer lifted,

And flower and vine, like angel wings
     Around the Holy Mother,
Waved softly there, as if God's truth
     And Mercy kissed each other.

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