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Freedom, Truth and Beauty

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The quality of Edward Doyle's work was appraised by Ella Wheeler Wilcox in the following article by Mrs. Wilcox which appeared in the New York Evening Journal and the San Francisco Examiner, in 1905:

Shut your eyes and bind them with a black cloth and try for one hour to see how cheerful you can be. Then imagine yourself deprived for life of the light of day.

Perhaps this experiment will make you less rebellious with your present lot.

Then take the little book called "The Haunted Temple and Other Poems," by Edward Doyle, the blind poet of Harlem, and read and wonder and feel ashamed of any mood of distrust of God and discontent with life you have ever indulged.

Mr. Doyle has been blind for the last thirty-seven years; he has lived a half century.

Therefore he still remembers the privilege of seeing God's world when a lad, and this must augment rather than ameliorate his sorrow.

He who has never known the use of eyes cannot fully understand the immensity of the loss of sight.

I hear people in possession of all their senses, and with many blessings, bewail the fact that they were ever born.

They have missed some aim, failed of some cherished ambition, lost some special joy or been defeated in some purpose.


And so they sit in spiritual darkness and curse life and doubt God. But here is a great soul who has found his divine self in the darkness and who sends out this wonderful song of joy and gratitude.

Read it, oh, ye weak repiners, and read it again and again. It is beautiful in thought, perfect in expression and glorious with truth.


My life is in deep darkness; still, I cry,

With joy to my Creator, "It is well!"

Were worlds my words, what firmaments would tell

My transport at the consciousness that I

Who was not, Am! To be—oh, that is why

The awful convex dark in which I dwell

Is tongued with joy, and chimes a temple bell.

Antiphonally to the choirs on high!

Chime cheerily, dark bell! for were no more

Than consciousness my gift, this were to know

The Giver Good—which sums up all the lore

Eternity can possibly bestow.

Chime! for thy metal is the molten ore

Of the great stars, and marks no wreck below.

I know a gifted and brilliant man in New York who is full of charm and wit in conversation, but the moment he touches a pen he becomes, as a rule, a melancholy pessimist, crying out at the injustice of the world and the uselessness of high endeavor in the field of art.

When urged to take a different mental attitude for the sake of the reading world, which needs strong tonics of hope and courage, rather than the slow poison of pessimism, however subtly sweet the brew, my friend responds that "The song and dance of literature is not my special gift." And he is obliged to "speak of the world as I find it."

He is an able-bodied man, in the prime of life, with splendid years waiting on his threshold to lead him to any height he may wish to climb. But to his mental vision, nothing is really "worth while."

What a rebuke this wonderful poem of Edward Doyle's should be to all such men and women....