I love to hear the wild winds meet,
The wild old winds at night;
To watch the starlight throb and beat,
To wait the thunder-light.
I love all tales of valiant men,
Of women good and fair;
If I were rich and strong, ah then,
I would do something rare.
I see thy temple in the skies
On pillars strong and white;
I cannot love it, though I rise
And try with all my might.
Sometimes a joy lays hold on me,
And I am speechless then;
Almost a martyr I could be,
And join the holy men.
But soon my heart is like a clod,
My spirit wrapt in doubt—
“A pillar in the house of God,
And never more go out!”
No more the sunny, breezy morn;
No more the speechless moon;
No more the ancient hills, forlorn,
A vision, and a boon.
Ah, God! my love will never burn,
Nor shall I taste thy joy;
And Jesus’ face is calm and stern—
I am a hapless boy.
Heavily lay the warm sunlight
Upon the green blades shining bright,
An outspread grassy sea:
She through the burnished yellow flowers
Went walking in the golden hours
That slept upon the lea.
The bee went past her with a hum;
The merry gnats did go and come
In complicated dance;
Like a blue angel, to and fro,
The splendid dragon-fly did go,
Shot like a seeking glance.
She never followed them, but still
Went forward with a quiet will,
That got, but did not miss;
With gentle step she passed along,
And once a low, half-murmured song
Uttered her share of bliss.
It was a little maiden-child;
You see, not frolicsome and wild,
As such a child should be;
For though she was just nine, no more,
Another little child she bore,
Almost as big as she.
With tender care of straining arms,
She kept it circled from all harms,
With face turned from the sun;
For in that perfect tiny heart,
The mother, sister, nurse, had part,
Her womanhood begun.
At length they reach an ugly ditch,
The slippery sloping bank of which
Flowers and long grasses line;
Some ragged-robins baby spied,
And spread his little arms out wide,
As he had found a mine.
What baby wants, that baby has:
A law unalterable as—
The poor shall serve the rich;
She kneeleth down with eager eyes,
And, reaching far out for the prize,
Topples into the ditch.
And slanting down the bank she rolled,
But in her little bosom’s fold
She clasps the baby tight;
And in the ditch’s muddy flow,
No safety sought by letting go,
At length she stands upright.
Alas! her little feet are wet;
Her new shoes! how can she forget?
And yet she does not cry.
Her scanty frock of dingy blue,
Her petticoat wet through and through!
But baby is quite dry.