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If we cared for any meadows, it were merely
To drop down in them and sleep.
We fall upon our faces, trying to go ;
The reddest flower would look as pale as snow.
Through the coal-dark, underground, Or, all day, we drive the wheels of iron
In the factories, round and round.
“For all day, the wheels are droning, turning ;
Their wind comes in our faces,
And the walls turn in their places :
Turns the long light that drops adown the wall, Turn the black flies that crawl along the ceiling,
All are turning, all the day, and we with all. And all day, the iron wheels are droning,
And sometimes we could pray, “Oye wheels,” (breaking out in a mad moaning)
“Stop ! be silent for to-day !"
Ay, be silent! Let them hear each other breathing
For a moment, mouth to mouth !
Of their tender human youth !
Is not all the life God fashions or reveals :
That they live in you, or under you, O wheels !
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,
To look up to Him and pray;
Will bless them another day.
“ Who is God that He should hear us, While the rushing of the iron wheels is stirred ? When we sob aloud, the human creatures near us
Pass by, hearing not, or answer not a word.
Strangers speaking at the door :
Hears our weeping any more?
“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,
“He is speechless as a stone :
Who commands us to work on.
Dark, wheel-like, turning clouds are all we find.
We look up for God, but tears have made us blind. Do you hear the children weeping and disproving,
O my brothers, what ye preach?
For God's possible is taught by His world's loving,
And the children doubt of each.
And well may the children weep before you !
They are weary ere they run ;
Which is brighter than
They sink in man's despair, without its calm ;
Are martyrs, by the pang without the palm : Are worn as if with age, yet unretrievingly
The harvest of its memories cannot reap,-
Let them weep ! let them weep !
And their look is dread to see,
With eyes turned on Deity.
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 ?
And your purple shows your path !
Than the strong man in his wrath."
A SONG FOR THE RAGGED SCHOOLS OF
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, “If she shakes a travelling cloak,
Down our Appian roll the scudi.” “England's righteous," they rejoin,
“Who shall grudge her exaltations, When her wealth of golden coin
Works the welfare of the nations?"
I am listening here in Rome.
Over Alps a voice is sweeping“ England's cruel ! save us some
Of these victims in her keeping !”
Of an old triumphal Roman
While the show was spoilt for no man, Comes that voice. Let others shout,
Other poets praise my land here : I am sadly sitting out,
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,
Gather back their lights of opal From the dumb, despondent plain,
Heaped with jawbones of a people. Lordly English, think it o'er,
Cæsar's doing is all undone ! You have cannons on your shore,
And free parliaments in London.
Princes' parks, and merchants' homes,
Tents for soldiers, ships for seamen, Ay, but ruins worse than Rome's
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,
Spilt like blots about the city, Quay, and street, and palace-wall
Take them up into your pity!
Ragged children with bare feet,
Whom the angels in white raiment
When they come on you for payment.
up out of the coldness On your doorsteps, side by side,
Till your footman damns their boldness.
In the alleys, in the squares,
Begging, lying little rebels In the noisy thoroughfares,
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.