“There is not much that I
For I’ve no money that’s quite my own!”
Spoke up the pitying child —
A little boy with a violin
At the station before the train came in, —
“But I can play my fiddle to you,
And a nice one ’tis, and good in tone!”
The man in the handcuffs smiled;
The constable looked, and he smiled, too,
As the fiddle began to twang;
And the man in the handcuffs suddenly sang
“This life so free
Is the thing for me!”
And the constable smiled, and said no word,
As if unconscious of what he heard;
And so they went on till the train came in —
The convict, and boy with the violin.
SIDE BY SIDE
So there sat they,
The estranged two,
Thrust in one pew
By chance that day;
Placed so, breath-nigh,
Each comer unwitting
Who was to be sitting
In touch close by.
Thus side by side
They seemed united
As groom and bride,
Who’d not communed
For many years —
Lives from twain spheres
With hearts distuned.
Her fringes brushed
His garment’s hem
As the harmonies rushed
Through each of them:
Her lips could be heard
In the creed and psalms,
And their fingers neared
At the giving of alms.
And women and men,
The matins ended,
By looks commended
Them, joined again.
Quickly said she,
“Don’t undeceive them —
Better thus leave them:”
“Quite so,” said he.
Slight words!—the last
Between them said,
Those two, once wed,
Who had not stood fast.
Diverse their ways
From the western door,
To meet no more
In their span of days.
’Twere sweet to have a comrade here,
Who’d vow to love this garreteer,
By city people’s snap and sneer
Tried oft and hard!
We’d rove a truant cock and hen
To some snug solitary glen,
And never be seen to haunt again
This teeming yard.
Within a cot of thatch and clay
We’d list the flitting pipers play,
Our lives a twine of good and gay
Our blithest deeds so neighbouring wise
That doves should coo in soft surprise,
“These must belong to Paradise
Who live so sweetly.”
Our clock should be the closing flowers,
Our sprinkle-bath the passing showers,
Our church the alleyed willow bowers,
The truth our theme;
And infant shapes might soon abound:
Their shining heads would dot us round
Like mushroom balls on grassy ground . . .
—But all is dream!
O God, that creatures framed to feel
A yearning nature’s strong appeal
Should writhe on this eternal wheel
In rayless grime;