Dream Tales and Prose Poems/Poems in Prose/The Monk

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I used to know a monk, a hermit, a saint. He lived only for the sweetness of prayer; and steeping himself in it, he would stand so long on the cold floor of the church that his legs below the knees grew numb and senseless as blocks of wood. He did not feel them; he stood on and prayed.

I understood him, and perhaps envied him; but let him too understand me and not condemn me; me, for whom his joys are inaccessible.

He has attained to annihilating himself, his hateful ego; but I too; it 's not from egoism, I pray not.

My ego, may be, is even more burdensome and more odious to me, than his to him.

He has found wherein to forget himself . . . but I, too, find the same, though not so continuously.

He does not lie . . . but neither do I lie.

November 1879.