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If we cared for any meadows, it were merely
Through the coal-dark, underground,
"For all day, the wheels are droning, turning;
Till our hearts turn, our heads with pulses burning,
Turns the sky in the high window blank and reeling,
"O ye wheels," (breaking out in a mad moaning)
Ay, be silent! Let them hear each other breathing
Let them touch each other's hands, in a fresh wreathing
Let them feel that this cold metallic motion
Is not all the life God fashions or reveals :
Let them prove their living souls against the notion
Grinding life down from its mark
And the children's souls, which God is calling sunward, Spin on blindly in the dark.
Now tell the poor young children, O my brothers,
So the blessed One who blesseth all the others,
They answer, "Who is God that He should hear us,
Is it likely God, with angels singing round Him,
"Two words, indeed, of praying we remember, And at midnight's hour of harm,
"Our Father," looking upward in the chamber, We say softly for a charm.
We know no other words except "Our Father," And we think that, in some pause of angels' song, God may pluck them with the silence sweet to gather, And hold both within His right hand which is strong. "Our Father!" If He heard us, He would surely (For they call Him good and mild)
Answer, smiling down the steep world very purely, "Come and rest with me, my child.”
"But, no!" say the children, weeping faster,
And they tell us, of His image is the master
Go to!" say the children,--" up in heaven,
Dark, wheel-like, turning clouds are all we find.
O my brothers, what ye preach?
For God's possible is taught by His world's loving,
And well may the children weep before you !
They have never seen the sunshine, nor the glory
They know the grief of man, without its wisdom;
The harvest of its memories cannot reap,-
They look up with their pale and sunken faces,
For they mind you of their angels in high places,
"How long," they say, "how long, O cruel nation,
Will you stand, to move the world, on a child's heart,— Stifle down with a mailed heel its palpitation,
And tread onward to your throne amid the mart ? Our blood splashes upward, O gold-heaper,
And your purple shows your path !
But the child's sob in the silence curses deeper
A SONG FOR THE RAGGED SCHOOLS OF LONDON.
WRITTEN IN ROME.
I AM listening here in Rome.
"England's strong," say many speakers,
"If she winks, the Czar must come,
Prow and topsail, to the breakers."
"England's rich in coal and oak,"
Adds a Roman, getting moody,
"England's righteous," they rejoin,
I am listening here in Rome.
Over Alps a voice is sweeping— "England's cruel! save us some Of these victims in her keeping!"
As the cry beneath the wheel
Of an old triumphal Roman
Cleft the people's shouts like steel,
While the show was spoilt for no man,
Comes that voice. Let others shout,
Praying, "God forgive her grandeur."
Shall we boast of empire, where
Time with ruin sits commissioned?
In God's liberal blue air
Peter's dome itself looks wizened;
And the mountains, in disdain,
Lordly English, think it o'er,
Princes' parks, and merchants' homes,
In your pauper men and women.
Women leering through the gas,
(Just such bosoms used to nurse you) Men, turned wolves by famine-pass ! Those can speak themselves, and curse you.
But these others-children small,
Ragged children with bare feet,
Whom the angels in white raiment
Know the names of, to repeat
When they come on you for payment.
Ragged children, hungry-eyed,
Huddled up out of the coldness
On your doorsteps, side by side,
Till your footman damns their boldness.
In the alleys, in the squares,
Struggling on with piteous trebles.
Patient children-think what pain
Makes a young child patient-ponder ! Wronged too commonly to strain
After right, or wish, or wonder.
Wicked children, with peaked chins,
And old foreheads! there are many
With no pleasures except sins,
Gambling with a stolen penny.