One’s path, to my inward seeing,
Was light with a wondrous day,
And led to the heights of being,
And an angel showed the way.
The other lay where Marah’s
Hot sands with snares are strewn—
Through many a darksome forest,
And the way was roughly hewn.
A faith to my soul was given—
The weird sleep-vision o’er—
And I turned from the child in heaven
To the child that played on the floor.
* * * * *
Good-bye, sweetheart, he said, and clasped her hand,
And rained his kisses on her tear-wet face;
Then broke away, and in a foreign land.
For her dear sake, sought gold, that he might place
Love’s jeweled crown upon his queen’s
And pour his hard-won treasures at her feet;
And swore, than Heaven, than life itself, his vow
To her he held more sacred and more sweet.
She waited as the woman only may
Whose eyes are blinded oft with unshed tears;
Lines on her forehead grew, and threads of gray;
The weary days crept into weary years.
“Oh stars, go down! Oh sun, be shrouded
My love comes not; he does not live,” she said;
And brushed the curls he’d kissed back from her brow,
And pout on mourning for her dead.
And still as oft the day came round that he
Had left his warm good-bye upon her lips,
As oft she sought the head-land by sea,
And longing watched the far-off white-sailed ships.
To-day, the low sand-beach was over-strewn;
Torn sail, and broken spar and human form,
’Gulfed by the waves, and crushed, and then out-thrown—
A ship went down in yester-night’s wild storm.
She walked among the debris, and the dead,
As some sweet mercy-sister on her round,
Scanning each up-turned face with nameless dread,
For aught of life; her tireless searching found
A babe—a waif with tawny tangled locks,
And great blue eyes with wonder brimming o’er;
Of all the human freight wrecked on the rocks,
The only living thing that washed ashore.
A pearl-gemmed golden case upon its breast
She oped, then stared, her eyes a-sudden wild,
A name, a pictured face told all the rest;
His name—his face—his child!
* * * * *
I’m a century old and more to-day—
A ripe old age for a modern man,—
Yet they who rocked my cradle, they say,
Predicted a thousand years my span;
They christened me at the fount of prayer,
And gave me a star-gemmed robe to wear.
My first free breath was battle-smoke
A prayerful nurses did not abhor
The sounds that first my ear awoke—
The clash and din and shout of war.
They pressed in my hand a crown of might
And pointed my way to the eagle’s flight.