The Youngest Son of His Father's House

THE eldest son of his father’s house,
His was the right to have and hold:
He took the chair before the hearth,
And he was master of all the gold.
The second son of his father’s house,
He took the wheatfields broad and fair,
He took the meadows beside the brook,
And the white flocks that pastured there.
Pipe high — pipe low! Along the way
From dawn till eve I needs must sing !
Who has a song throughout the day,
He has no need of anything !
The youngest son of his father’s house
Had neither gold nor flocks for meed.
He went to the brook at break of day,
And made a pipe out of a reed.
“Pipe high — pipe low! Each wind that blows
Is comrade to my wandering.
Who has a song wherever he goes,
He has no need of anything ! ”
His brother’s wife threw open the door.
“ Piper, come in for a while,” she said.
. “ Thou shalt sit at my hearth, since thou art so poor,
And thou shalt give me a song instead! ”
Pipe high — pipe low — all over the wold !
“ Lad, wilt thou not come in ? ” asked she.
“ Who has a song, he feels no cold,
My brother’s hearth is mine own,” quoth he.
“Pipe high—pipe low! For what care I
Though there be no hearth on the wide gray plain ?
I have set my face to the open sky,
And have cloaked myself in the thick gray rain.”
Over the hills where the white clouds are,
He piped to the sheep till they needs must come.
They fed in pastures strange and far,
But at fall of night he brought them home.
They followed him, bleating, wherever he led :
He called his brother out to see.
“ I have brought thee my flocks for a gift,” he said,
“ For thou seest that they are mine,” quoth he.
Pipe high—pipe low! Wherever I go
The wide grain presses to hear me sing.
Who has a song, though his state be low,
He has no need of anything.”
“Ye have taken my house,” he said, “and my sheep,
But ye had no heart for to take me in.
I will give ye my right for your own to keep,
But ye be not my kin.
“ To the kind fields my steps are led.
My people rush across the plain.
My bare feet shall not fear to tread
With the cold white feet of the rain.
“ My father’s house is wherever I pass ;
My brothers are each stock and stone ;
My mother’s bosom in the grass
Yields a sweet slumber to her son.
“ Ye are rich in house and flocks,” said he,
“ Though ye have no heart to take me in.
There was only a reed that was left for me,
And ye be not my kin.
“Pipe high—pipe low! Though skies be gray,
Who has a song, he needs must roam!
Even though ye call all day, all day,
Brother, wilt thou come home ? ’ ”
Over the meadows and over the wold,
Up to the hills where the skies begin,
The youngest son of his father’s house
Went forth to find his kin.
Anna Hempstead Branch.