The Poet's Singing

IN heat and in cold, in sunshine and rain,
Bewailing its loss and boasting its gain,
Blessing its pleasure and cursing its pain,
The hurrying world goes up and down :
Every avenue and street
Of city and town
Are veins that throb with the restless beat
Of the eager multitude’s trampling feet.
Men wrangle together to get and hold
A sceptre of power or a crock of gold;
Blaspheming God’s name with the breath He gave,
And plotting revenge on the brink of the grave !
And Fashion’s followers, flitting after,
O’ertake and pass the funeral train,
Thoughtlessly scattering jests and laughter,
Like sharp, quick showers of hail and rain,
To beat on the hearts that are bleeding with pain!
And many who stare at the close-shut hearse
Envy the dead within, — or, worse,
Turn away with a keener zest
To grapple and revel and sin with the rest!
While far apart in a bower of green,
Unheeded, unseen,
A warbling bird on the topmost bough
Merrily pipes to the Poet below,
Asking an answer as gay, I trow!
But he hears the surging waves without,—
The heartless jeer, and the wild, wild shout:
The ceaseless clamor, the cruel strife
Make the Poet weary of life ;
And tears of pity and tears of pain
Ebb and flow in every strain,
As he soothes his heart with singing.
The tide of humanity rolleth on ;
And ’mid faces miserly, haggard, and wan,
Between the hypocrite's and the knave’s,
The hapless idiot’s and the slave’s,
Sweet children smile in their nurses’ arms,
And clap their hands in innocent glee ;
While, unrebuked by the heavenly charms
That beam in the eyes of infancy,
Oaths still blacken the lips of men,
And startle the ears of womanhood !
On either hand
The churches stand,
Forgotten by those who yesterday
Went thronging thither to praise and pray,
And take of the Holy Body and Blood !
Their week-day creed is the law of Might;
Self is their idol, and Gain their right:
Though, now and then,
God sees some faithful disciples still
Breasting the current to do His will.
The little bird on the topmost bough
Merrily pipes to the Poet below,
Asking an answer as gay, I trow !
But he hears the surging waves without,—
The atheist’s seal!’and the infidel’s doubt,
The. Pharisee’s cant and the sweet saint’s prayer,
And the piercing cry tor rest from care;
And tears of pity and tears of pain
Ebb and flow in every strain,
As he praises God with singing.