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The Salt Of The Earth

Hattie Howard

The salt of the earth—what a meaningful phrase
From the lips of the Saviour, and one that conveys
A sense of the need of a substance saline
This pestilent sphere to refresh and refine,
And a healthful and happy condition secure
By making it pure as the ocean is pure.

In all the nomenclature known to the race,
In all appellations of people or place,
Was ever a name so befitting, so true
Of those who are seeking the wrong to undo,
With naught of the Pharisee’s arrogant air
Their badge of discipleship humbly who wear?

Do beings, forsooth, fashioned out of the mold,
So secretly, strangely, those elements hold
That may be developed in goodness and grace
To shine in demeanor, in form and in face
Till they, by renewal of heavenly birth,
Shall merit their title—the salt of the earth?

To the landsman at home or the sailor at sea,
With nausea, scurvy, or canker maybe,
’Tis never in language to overexalt
The potent preservative virtue of salt—
A crystal commodity wholesome and good,
A cure for disease, and a savor for food.

Ah, the beasts of the wood and the fowls of the air
Know all of the need of this condiment rare,
Know well where the springs and the “salt-licks” abound,
Where streams salinaceous flow out of the ground;
And their cravings appease by sipping the brine
With more than the relish of topers at wine.

Our wants may be legion, our needs are but few,
And every known ill hath its remedy true;
’Tis ours to discover and give to mankind
Of hidden essentials the best that we find;
’Tis ours to eradicate error and sin,
And help to make better the place we are in.

If ever this world from corruption is free,
And righteousness reign in the kingdom to be,
Like salt in its simple and soluble way
Infusing malodor, preventing decay.
So human endeavor in action sublime
Must never relax till the finale of time.

To thousands discouraged this comforting truth
Appeals like the promise of infinite youth:
To know, as they labor like bees in the hive,
Yet do little more than keep goodness alive—
To know that the Master accredits their worth
As blessed disciples—”the salt of the earth.”
Online text © 1998-2014 Poetry X. All rights reserved.
From Poems | Hartford Press, 1904
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