He goes well fed from his table;
He kisses his child and wife;
Then he haunts a wood, till he orphans a brood,
Or robs a deer of its life.
He aims at a speck in the azure;
Winged love, that has flown at a call;
It reels down to die, and he lets it lie;
His pleasure was seeing it fall.
And one there was, weary of laurels,
Of burdens and troubles of State;
So the jungle he sought, with the beautiful thought
Of shooting a she lion’s mate.
And one came down from the pulpit,
In the pride of a duty done,
And his cloth sufficed, as his emblem of Christ,
While murder smoked out of his gun.
One strays from the haunts of fashion
With an indolent, unused brain;
But his sluggish heart feels a sudden start
In the purpose of giving pain.
And the fluttering flock of pigeons,
As they rise on eager wings,
From prison to death, bring a catch in his breath:
Oh, the rapture of killing things!
Now, this is the race as we find it,
Where love, in the creed, spells hate;
And where bird and beast meet a foe in the priest
And in rulers of fashion and State.
But up to the Kingdom of Thinkers
Has risen the cry of our kin;
And the weapons of thought are burnished and brought
To clash with the bludgeons of sin.
Far Christ, of a million churches,
Come near to the earth again;
Be more than a Name; be a living Flame;
‘Make Good’ in the hearts of men.
Shine full on the path of Science,
And show it the heights above,
Where vast truths lie for the searching eye
That shall follow the torch of love.
Time has made conquest of so many things
That once were mine. Swift-footed, eager youth
That ran to meet the years; bold brigand health,
That broke all laws of reason unafraid,
And laughed at talk of punishment.
Close ties of blood and friendship, joy of life,
Which reads its music in the major key
And will not listen to a minor strain —
These things and many more are spoils of time.
Yet as a conqueror who only storms
The outposts of a town, and finds the fort
Too strong to be assailed, so time retreats
And knows his impotence. He cannot take
My three great jewels from the crown of life:
Love, sympathy, and faith; and year on year
He sees them grow in lustre and in worth,
And glowers by me, plucking at his beard,
And dragging, as he goes, a useless scythe.
Once in the dark he plotted with his friend
Grim Death, to steal my treasures. Death replied:
’They are immortal, and beyond thy reach,
I could but set them in another sphere,
To shine with greater lustre.’
Time and Death
Passed on together, knowing their defeat;
And I am singing by the road of life.