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MY DREAM. 227
44 Walking his round of duty
Serenely day by day,
With the strong man's hand of labor
And childhood's heart of play.
44 True as the knights of story,
Sir Lancelot and his peers, Brave in his calm endurance
As they in tilt of spears.
44As waves in stillest waters,
As stars in noonday skies, All that wakes to noble action
In his noon of calmness lies.
44 Wherever outraged Nature
Asks word or action brave, Wherever struggles labor,
Wherever groans a slave—
44 Wherever rise the peoples,
Wherever sink a throne,
The throbbing heart of Freedom finds
An answer in his own.
44 Knight of a better era,
Without reproach or fear! Said I not well that Bayards
And Sidneys still are here?"
In my dream, methought I trod,
Yesternight, a mountain road;
Narrow as Al Sirat's span,
High as eagle's flight, it ran.
Overhead, a roof of cloud
With its weight of thunder bowed;
Underneath, to left and right,
Blankness and abysmal night.
Here and there a wild-flower blushed,
Now and then a bird-song gushed;
Now and then, through rifts of shade,
Stars shone out, and sunbeams played.
But the goodly company,
Walking in that path with me,
One by one the brink o'erslid,
One by one the darkness hid.
Some with wailing and lament,
Some with cheerful courage went;
But, of all who smiled or mourned,
Never one to us returned.
Anxiously, with eye and ear,
Questioning that shadow drear
Never hand in token stirred,
Never answering voice I heard!
Steeper, darker !:—lo! I felt
From my feet the pathway melt.
Swallowed by the black despair,
And the hungry jaws of air,
Past the stony-throated caves,
Strangled by the wash of waves,
Past the splintered crags, I sank
On a green and flowery bank—
Soft as fall of thistle-down,
Lightly as a cloud is blown,
Soothingly as childhood pressed
To the bosom of its rest.
MY DREAM. 229
Of the sharp-horned rocks instead,
Green the grassy meadows spread,
Bright with waters singing by
Trees that propped a golden sky.
Painless, trustful, sorrow-free,
Old lost faces welcomed me,
With whose sweetness of content
Still expectant hope was blent.
Waking while the dawning gray
Slowly brightened into day,
Pondering that vision fled,
Thus unto myself I said:
"Steep, and hung with clouds of strife,
Is our narrow path of life;
And our death the dreaded fall
Through the dark, awaiting all.
"So, with painful steps we climb
Up the dizzy ways of time,
Ever in the shadow shed
By the forecast of our dread.
"Dread of mystery solved alone,
Of the untried and unknown;
Yet the end thereof may seem
Like the falling of my dream.
"And this heart-consuming care,
All our fears of here or there,
Change and absence, loss and death.
Prove but simple lack of faith/'
Thou, O Most Compassionate!
Who didst stoop to our estate,
Drinking of the cup we drain,
Treading in our path of pain—
Through the doubt and mystery,
Grant to us thy steps to see,
And the grace to draw from thence
Larger hope and confidence.
Show thy vacant tomb, and let,
As of old, the angels sit,
Whispering, by its open door:
"Fear not I He hath gone before I *
THE BAREFOOT BOY.
Blessings on thee, little man, Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan! With thy turned-up pantaloons, And thy merry whistled tunes; With thy red lip, redder still Kissed by strawberries on the hill; With the sunshine on thy face, Through thy torn brings jaunty grace* From my heart I give thee joy— I was once a barefoot boy! Prince thou art—the grown-up man Only is republican. Let the million-dollared ride! Barefoot, trudging at his side, Thou hast more than he can buy, In the reach of ear and eye— Outward sunshine, inward joy: Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!
O, for boyhood's painless play, Sleep that wakes in laughing day, Health that mocks the doctor's rules, Knowledge never learned of schools Of the wild bee's morning chase, Of the wild-flower's time and place,
THE BAREFOOT BOY. 23 i
Flight of fowl and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole's nest is hung;
Where the whitest lilies blow,
Where the freshest berries grow,
Where the ground-nut trails its vine,
Where the wood-grape's clusters shine;
Of the black wasp's cunning way,
Mason of his walls of clay,
And the architectural plans
Of gray hornet artisans!—
For, eschewing books and tasks,
Nature answers all he asks;
Hand in hand with her he walks,
Face to face with her he talks,
Part and parcel of her joy,—
Blessings on the barefoot boy!
O, for boyhood's time of June,
Crowding years in one brief moon,
When all things I heard or saw,
Me, their master, waited for.
I was rich in flowers and trees,
Humming-birds and honey-bees;
For my sport the squirrel played,
Plied the snouted mole his spade;
For my taste the blackberry cone
Purpled over hedge and stone;
Laughed the brook for my delight
Through the day and through the night,
Whispering at the garden wail,
Talked with me from fall to fall;
Mine the sand-rimmed pickerel pond,
Mine the walnut slopes beyond,
Mine, on bending orchard trees,