In an Attic

THIS is my attic-room. Sit down, my friend ;
My swallow’s-nest is high and hard to gain ;
The stairs are long and steep, but at the end
The rest repays the pain.
For here are peace and freedom ; room for speech
Or silence, as may suit a changeful mood ; — Society’s hard by-laws do not reach
This lofty altitude.
You hapless dwellers in the lower rooms
See only bricks and sand and windowed walls;
But here, above the dust and smoky glooms,
Heaven’s light unhindered falls.
So early in the street the shadows creep,
Your night begins while yet my eyes behold
The purpling hills, the wide horizon’s sweep,
Flooded with sunset gold.
The day comes earlier here. At morn I see
Along the roofs the eldest sunbeam peep, —
I live in daylight, limitless and free,
While you are lost in sleep.
I catch the rustle of the maple-leaves,
I see their breathing branches rise and fall,
And hear, from their high perch along the eaves,
The bright-necked pigeons call.
Far from the parlors with their garrulous crowds
I dwell alone, with little need of words ;
I have mute friendships with the stars and clouds,
And love-trysts with the birds.
So all who walk steep ways, in grief and night,
Where every step is full of toil and pain,
May see, when they have gained the sharpest height,
It has not been in vain :
Since they have left behind the noise and heat, —
And, though their eyes drop tears, their sight is clear;
The air is purer, and the breeze is sweet,
And the blue heaven more near.