I am looking for a poem that my mother in law remembers form her childhood. A part of the poem is:
The jester doffed his cap and gown and stood the mocking court before
They could not see the bitter smile behind the painted grin he wore
He bowed his head and bent his knee upon the monarch's silken stool
His pleading voice arose "Oh lord be merciful to me a fool"
THE FOOL'S PRAYER
by Edward R. Sill
The royal feast was done; the King
Sought some new sport to banish care,
and to his jester cried:
"Sir Fool, kneel now and make for us a prayer!"
The jester doffed his cap and bells,
And stood the mocking court before;
They could not see the bitter smile
Behind the painted grin he wore.
He bowed his head and bent his knee
Upon the monarch's silken stool;
His pleading voice arose; "O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!
No pity, Lord, could change the heart
From red with wring to white as wool;
The rod must heal the sin: but, Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!
'Tis not by guilt the onward sweep
Of thruth and right, O Lord, we stay;
'Tis by our follies that so long
We hold the earth from heaven away.
These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
Go crushing blossoms without end;
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
Among the heartstrings of a friend.
The ill-timed truth we might have kept--
Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?
The word we had not sense to say--
Who knows how grandly it had rung?
Our faults no tenderness should ask,
The chastening stripes must cleanse them all;
But for our blunders--oh, in shame
Before the eyes of Heaven we fall.
Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
Men crown the knave and scourge the tool
That did his will; but Thou, O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!"
The room was hushed; in silence rose
The King, and sought his gardens cool,
And walked apart, and murmured low,
"Be merciful to me, a fool!"
Found (with illustration) at
And here's some info about the poet:
Edward Rowland Sill
SILL, Edward Rowland, educator, born in Windsor, Connecticut, 29 April, 1841; died in Cleveland, Ohio, 27 February, 1887. He was graduated at Yale in 1861, and, owing to feeble health, resided on the Pacific coast till July, 1866, when he returned to the east, and. after studying theology at Harvard divinity school for some time, devoted himself to literary work in New York city. After teaching for three years in Medina county and at Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, he accepted the office of principal of the high-school at Oakland, California, in 1871, and in 1874 was appointed professor of the English language and literature in the University of California, where he remained for eight years. He resigned his chair in 1882 to resume literary work, and returned to Cuyahoga Falls, where he remained until his death, which occurred in a hospital at Cleveland after he had undergone an operation. Elizabeth Stuart Phelps says: "He has left, I think, no volume but the ' Booklet, ' as he used to call it, privately printed as a farewell to his friends in California ... It contains some of the most delicate, most finished, and most musical poetic work that the country has produced He was personally beloved as I believe few men of our day have been." The volume referred to is "The Hermitage, and other Poems" (New York, 1867).
You're welcome, and best wishes to your mom-in-law!