With Either Hand
With Either Hand (later Religio Medici) is a poem written by Arthur Conan Doyle published in the book version of the novel The Stark Munro Letters by Longmans, Green & Co. on 5 september 1895 and subsequent book versions. Then renamed Religio Medici in the collected poems Songs of the Road.
- in The Stark Munro Letters (5 september 1895, Longmans, Green & Co.) as With Either Hand with 8 additional verses, and some variations
- in Songs of the Road (16 march 1911, Smith, Elder & Co. [UK]) as Religio Medici
- in Songs of the Road (october 1911, Doubleday, Page & Co. [US]) as Religio Medici
- in Current Literature (april 1912 [US]) as Religio Medici
- in Songs of the Road (27 january 1920, John Murray [UK])
- in Songs of the Road (february 1920, John Murray [UK])
- in The Poems of Arthur Conan Doyle (21 september 1922, John Murray [UK])
- in The Poems of Arthur Conan Doyle (14 september 1928, John Murray's Fiction Library [UK])
God's own best will bide the test,
And God's own worst will fall;
But, best or worst or last or first,
He ordereth it all.
For all is good, if understood,
(Ah, could we understand!)
And right and ill are tools of skill
Held in His either hand.
The harlot and the anchorite,
The martyr and the rake,
Deftly He fashions each aright,
Its vital part to take.
Wisdom He makes to form the fruit
Where the high blossoms be;
And Lust to kill the weaker shoot,
And Drink to trim the tree.
And Holiness that so the bole
Be solid at the core;
And Plague and Fever, that the whole
Be changing evermore.
He strews the microbes in the lung,
The blood-clot in the brain;
With test and test He picks the best,
Then tests them once again.
He tests the body and the mind,
He rings them o'er and o'er;
And if they crack, He throws them back,
And fashions them once more.
He chokes the infant throat with slime,
He sets the ferment free;
He builds the tiny tube of lime
That blocks the artery.
He lets the youthful dreamer store
Great projects in his brain,
Until He drops the fungus spore
That smears them out again.
He stores the milk that feeds the babe,
He dulls the tortured nerve;
He gives a hundred joys of sense
Where few or none might serve.
And still He trains the branch of good
Where the high blossoms be,
And wieldeth still the shears of ill
To prune and prime His tree.
Additional verses included in The Stark Munro Letters
So read I this—and as I try
To write it clear again,
I feel a second finger lie
Above mine on the pen.
Dim are these peering eyes of mine,
And dark what I have seen.
But be I wrong, the wrong is Thine,
Else had it never been.