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The Poetical Works of George MacDonald (Parables)

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  Willie speaks.

Then put me in the way,

  For you, papa, are a man: What thing shall I do this very day?--

  Only be sure I can.

I want to know--I am willing,

  Let me at least have a chance! Shall I give the monkey-boy my shilling?--

  I want to serve at once.

  The Father answers.

Give all your shillings you might

  And hurt your brothers the more; He only can serve his fellows aright

  Who goes in at the little door.

We must do the thing we must

  Before the thing we may; We are unfit for any trust

  Till we can and do obey.

  Willie speaks.

I will try more and more;

  I have nothing now to ask; Obedience I know is the little door:

  Now set me some hard task.

  The Father answers.

No, Willie; the father of all,

  Teacher and master high, Has set your task beyond recall,

  Nothing can set it by.

  Willie speaks.

What is it, father dear,

  That he would have me do? I'd ask himself, but he's not near,

  And so I must ask you!

  The Father answers.

Me 'tis no use to ask,

  I too am one of his boys! But he tells each boy his own plain task;

  Listen, and hear his voice.

  Willie speaks.

Father, I'm listening so

  To hear him if I may! His voice must either be very low,

  Or very far away!

  The Father answers.

It is neither hard to hear,

  Nor hard to understand; It is very low, but very near,

  A still, small, strong command.

  Willie answers.

I do not hear it at all;

  I am only hearing you!

  The Father speaks.

is there nothing, great or small, You ought to go and do?

  Willie answers.

Let me think:--I ought to feed

  My rabbits. I went away In such a hurry this morning! Indeed

  They've not had enough to-day!

  The Father speaks.

That is his whisper low!

  That is his very word! You had only to stop and listen, and so

  Very plainly you heard!

That duty's the little door:

  You must open it and go in;

There is nothing else to do before,
There is nowhere else to begin.

  Willie speaks.

But that's so easily done!

  It's such a trifling affair! So nearly over as soon as begun.

  For that he can hardly care!

  The Father answers.

You are turning from his call

  If you let that duty wait; You would not think any duty small

  If you yourself were great.

The nearest is at life's core;

  With the first, you all begin: What matter how little the little door

  If it only let you in?

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