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This article is taken from PN Review 114, Volume 23 Number 4, March - April 1997.

Dorothy Nimmo Frederic Raphael

Walk cheerfully over the world
answering that of God.

What question do you imagine is being asked?
What do you think would be acceptable as an answer?
Who do you think is asking the question?
Do you think the answer will be the same
yesterday today and tomorrow?

Read the question carefully before you attempt to
Answer cheerfully.

You might have found footnotes helpful.
Indeed you might have found footnotes
more interesting than the body of the text…

So runs the opening section of Dorothy Nimmo's A Testimony to the Grace of God as shown in the life of JAMES NAYLER 1618-1660. Nayler was a Quaker martyr, a good man done to death, at length, by fellow-Christians who could not tolerate the humbleness of his faith. Humility perhaps always contains a tincture of provocation: it criticises authority and power by asking nothing of them. When Diogenes was asked by Alexander the Great whether there was anything he could do for him, he replied, 'You could move out of my light.' Nayler enraged the world by finding his light elsewhere.

What I have to say about the poem will be in the nature of footnotes. If my remarks prove to be somewhat partial, they may be 'helpful' for that reason. It is time to rebel, timidly, against the cant which requires a distant, dispassionate posture towards ...

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