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Cross Roads by Margaret E. Sangster

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This etext was prepared by Judy Boss, Omaha, NE

CROSS ROADS

by MARGARET E. SANGSTER,

To My Father

NOTE

Some of the verses in this book have been printed by The Christian Herald,
Good Housekeeping, Pictorial Review, New Fiction Publishing Company and
the C. H. Young Publishing Company. I wish to acknowledge, with thanks,
permission to reprint them.

CONTENTS

PREFACE
WOOD MAGIC
WATERIN' THE HORSES
AT DAWN
THE HAUNTED HOUSE
TO A PAIR OF GLOVES
PEAKS
LI'L FELLER
TO AN OLD SCHOOLHOUSE
THE OLD SAILOR
THE RIVER AND THE TREE
AUTUMN SONG
SCARLET FLOWERS
ON FIFTH AVENUE
FROM A CITY WINDOW
THE LADY ACROSS THE COURT
TO A PORCELAIN PUPPY DOG
COLORS
POSSESSION (A TENEMENT MOTHER SPEAKS)
LIGHTS OF THE CITY
STEEL
MUSIC OF THE SLUMS
"BE OF GOOD CHEER!"
FROM MY ROOM
THE BALCONY SCENE
A BOWERY PAWN-SHOP
SPRING IN THE CITY
LI'L EMPTY CLOSET
TWO LULLABYS
I DREAMED YOUR FACE
ANSWER
A BABY'S HANDS
ALL ALONG THE BROAD HIGHWAY
MY MOTHER
HEREDITY
APRIL
THE DESERT PATH (SEVEN SONNETS)
SUMMER SONG
COMPREHENSION (A MOTHER'S SONG)
SINGING ON THE MARCH
EASTER
RESURRECTION
THE QUEEN
FRAGMENTS
IT'S LOTS OF FUN
VALENTINE
THE SACRIFICE
TO A CERTAIN ROOM
OTHER DAYS
AT TWILIGHT
THERE ARE SUCH WEARY LITTLE LINES
THREE SONGS OF AWAKENING
IN A CANOE
CAPTIVE-HEART
EVENING SONG
AFTER A DAY OF WAITING
INTANGIBLE
AT FIRST SIGHT
FIVE SONNETS
FORGIVEN
THE WRITING
AT PARTING
WHEN I AM OLD
THE REFUGE
TO DREAM ALONE
NOW I MAY SING OF SADNESS
WHEN WAR CAME
WHEN YOU WENT BY
IN MEMORIAM
A PEASANT GIRL SINGS
TOGETHER
JIM-DOG
SIX SONNETS
AFTER PEACE
FROM THE DECK OF A TRANSPORT
TIM -- MY BUNKIE
A PRAYER FOR OUR BOYS RETURNING
PARIS
SONG FROM FRANCE
FROM PARIS TO CHATEAU-THIERRY
A RUINED CHURCH
CHILD FACES
AFTER HEARING MUSIC COMING FROM A DEVASTATED FARMHOUSE
RETURN
THE PHOENIX
A PRAYER ON EASTER FOR OUR BOYS KILLED IN ACTION
INDEPENDENCE DAY, 1919
SHADOWS
L'ENVOI

PREFACE

The candlelight sweeps softly through the room,
Filling dim surfaces with golden laughter,
Touching with mystery each high hung rafter,
Cutting a path of promise through the gloom.

Slim little elves dance gently on each taper,
Wistful, small ghosts steal out of shrouded
corners --
And, like a line of vague enchanted mourners,
Great shadows sway like wind-blown sheets of paper.

Gently as fingers drawn across your hair,
I see the yellow flicker of it creep --
And in a silence that is kin to sleep,
I feel a world away from pain and care.

Roads stretch like arms across the world outside,
Roads reach to strife, to happiness, to fame --
Here, in the candlelight, I speak your name,
Here we are at life's cross way, side by side!

OH, THERE ARE BROOKS THERE, AND FIELDS THERE AND NOOKS
THERE --
NOOKS WHERE A SEEKER MAY FIND FOREST FLOWERS;
BLUE IS THE SKY THERE, AND SOFT WINDS CREEP BY THERE,
SINGING A SONG THROUGH THE LONG SUMMER HOURS.

WOOD MAGIC

The woods lay dreaming in a topaz dream,
And we, who silently roamed hand in hand,
Were pilgrims in a strange, enchanted land,
Where life was love, and love was all a-gleam.

And old remembered songs came back to greet
Our ears, from other worlds of long ago,
The worlds that we of earth may seldom know --
And to those songs we timed our vagrant feet.

We did not speak, we did not need to say
The thought that lay so buried in our hearts --
The thoughts as sweet as springtime rain, that
starts
The buds to blossoming in wistful May.

We did not need to speak, we could not speak,
The wonder words that we in silence knew --
We walked, as very little children do,
Who feel, but cannot tell, the thing they seek.

Beyond a screen of bushes, bending low,
We knew that fair Titania lay at rest,
Her pillowed head upon her lover's breast,
Her kisses swift as birds that come and go!

And underneath a wall of mottled stone,
We knew the sleeping beauty lay in state,
Entangled in a mist of tears, to wait
The prince whose kiss would raise her to a throne.

Perhaps a witch with single flaming eye,
Was watching from beneath the hemlock tree;
And fairies that our gaze might never see,
Laughed at us as we, hand in hand, crept by.

Laughed at us? No, I somehow think they knew
That you and I were kin to them that day!
I think they knew that we were years away
From everything but make-believe, come true.

I think they knew that, singing through the air,
There thrilled a vague, insistent, harp-like call --
And that, where woodbine blazed against the wall,
You held me close and kissed my wind-tossed hair!

WATERIN' TH' HORSES

I took th' horses to th' brook -- to water 'em you know,
Th' air was cold with just a touch o' frost;
And as we went a-joggin' down I couldn't help but
think,
O' city folk an' all the things they lost.

O' cause they have their lighted streets -- their Great
White Way an' such,
O' course they have their buildings large an' tall;
But, my! they never know th' joy o' ridin' ter th'
brook,
An' somehow I don't envy 'em at all!

Perhaps I'd like it -- for awhile -- to hear th' songs an'
laughter,
But somehow, I don't know exactly why;
I'd feel th' country callin' me; I'd long again fer
silence,
An' fer God's mountains, blue against the sky.

I took th' horses to th' brook -- to water 'em you know,
Th' day was pretty as a day can be;
An' as we went a-joggin' down I couldn't help but
think,
O' city folk an' all they never see!

AT DAWN

I. THE CAVEMAN

I live! And the scarlet sunrise is climbing the
mountain steep,
I live . . . And below, in the caverns, the rest
of my clansmen sleep;
But I -- I am here, and chanting, I could slay a
beast with my hand,
And I thrill as the mist of the morning creeps up
from the rock-strewn land!

I live, I have strength for fighting -- and courage to
rend and slay,
I live! And my eyes are lifting to gaze at the new-
born day;
And I pause, on the way to my hewn-out cave,
though I know that she waits me there,
My mate, with her eyes on the scarlet dawn, and the
wind in her flame-like hair.

I live -- and the joy of living leaps up in my searching
eyes,
I live, and my soul starts forward, to challenge the
waking skies!
Far down are the torrents roaring, far up are the
clouds, unfurled;
And I stand on the cliff, exultant, akin to the waking
world.

The mists are gone, and an eagle sweeps down from
the mountain high,
And I wish that my arms were feathered and strong,
that I, too, might fly;
I live! I am one with the morning! Ah, I am a
MAN, and free!
And I shout aloud, and the scarlet dawn shouts back,
on the gale, to me!

II. THE PIONEER

I creep along, but silently,
For, oh, the dawn is coming;
I creep along, for I have heard
A flint-tipped arrow, humming;
And I have heard a snapping twig,
Above the wind's low laughter;
And I have known -- and thrilled to know,
That swift THEY followed after!

The forest turns from black to grey,
The leaves are silver-shining;
But I have heard a far-off call --
The war-whoop's sullen whining.
And I have been a naked form,
Among the tree trunks prowling;
And I have glimpsed a savage face,
That faded from me, scowling.

A rosy color sweeps the sky,
A vagrant lark is singing,
But, as I steal along the trail,
I know that day is bringing
A host of red-skins in its train,
Their tommy-hawks are gleaming --
I SEE THEM NOW; or can it be
The first pale sunlight beaming?

I creep along, but stealthily,
For, oh, the dawn is coming!
I creep along -- but I have heard
A flint-tipped arrow, humming. . . .
And yet, my heart is light, inside,
My soul, itself, is flying
To greet the dawn! I AM ALIVE --
AND WHAT IS DEATH -- BUT DYING?

III. THE FARMER

The dawn is here! I climb the hill;
The earth is young and strangely still;
A tender green is showing where
But yesterday my fields were bare. . . .
I climb and, as I climb, I sing;
The dawn is here, and with it -- spring!

My oxen stamp the ground, and they
Seem glad, with me, that soon the day
Will bring new work for us to do!
The light above is clear and blue;
And one great cloud that swirls on high,
Seems sent from earth to kiss the sky.

The birds are coming back again,
They know that soon the golden grain
Will wave above this fragrant loam;
The birds, with singing, hasten home;
And I, who watch them, feel their song
Deep in my soul, and nothing wrong,
Or mean or small, can touch my heart. . . .
Down in the vale the smoke-wreaths start,
To softly curl above the trees;
The fingers of a vagrant breeze
Steal tenderly across my hair,
And toil is fled, and want, and care!

The dawn is here!
I climb the hill;
My very oxen seem to thrill --
To feel the mystery of day.
The sun creeps out, and far away
From man-made law I worship God,
Who made the light, the cloud, the sod;
I worship smilingly, and sing!
* * *
The dawn is here, and with it -- spring!

THE HAUNTED HOUSE

It stands neglected, silent, far from the ways of men,
A lonely little cottage beside a lonely glen;
And, dreaming there, I saw it when sunset's golden
rays
Had touched it with the glory of other, sweeter days.

They say the house is haunted, and -- well, it is, I
guess,
For every empty window just aches with loneliness;
With loneliness that tortures and memory that flays;
Ah, yes, the house is haunted with ghosts of other
days.

The ghost of childish laughter rings on the narrow
stair,
And, from a silent corner, the murmur of a prayer
Steals out, and then a love song, and then a bugle
call,
And steps that do not falter along the quiet hall.

The story of the old house that stands beside the
glen?
That story is forgotten by every one; but when
The house is touched and softened by sunset's golden
rays,
I know that ghosts must haunt it, the ghosts of
sweeter days.

TO A PAIR OF GLOVES

Jus' a little pair o' gloves,
Sorter thin an' worn;
With th' fingers neatly darned,
Like they had been torn.
Jus' a little pair o' gloves,
Not s' much ter see. . . .
Not a soul on earth can guess
What they mean ter me!

Jus' a little pair o' gloves,
Sorter tossed aside;
Limp an' quiet, folded up,
Like their soul had died.
Every finger seems ter look
Lonely, an' my hand
Trembles as it touches them --
Who can understand?

Jus' a little pair o' gloves,
Ah, she tossed 'em there. . . .
Singin'-like, she turned ter go,
Didn't have a care!
Kissin' them? A prayer, a tear?
God, my head WILL bow --
Jus' a little pair o' gloves,
. . . . Empty, now!

PEAKS

A storm may rage in the world below,
It may tear great trees apart;
But here on the mountain top, I know
That it cannot touch my heart.

I have struggled up through the lightning's glare,
I have walked where the cliffs fell sheer
To a gorge below, but I breathed a prayer,
And my soul passed doubt and fear!

Here on the mountain top the air
Is clear as a silver song;
And the sun is warm on my unbound hair;
AND WHAT THOUGH THE WAY WAS LONG?

What though the way was steep and bleak,
And what though the road was hard?
I stand at last on the mountain peak,
With my eyes upraised to God!

A storm may sweep through the world below,
It may rend great rocks apart;
But here on the crest of the world I know
That it cannot touch my heart.

LIL' FELLER

When th.' sunshine's golden-yeller
Like th' curls upon his head,
Then he wakes -- th' lil' feller --
An' he jumps up, outen bed;
An' he scrambles fer his knickers
Flung, perhaps, upon th' floor,
An' he takes his hat (my old 'un),
An' he races through th' door --
An' I hear his voice, a-singin',
In his odd, ole-fashioned way,
'Cause he's glad -- th' lil' feller --
In th' mornin' o' the day.

Kinder makes me feel, well, lazy,
So I hurry up, outside,
Where th' mountains smile down, friendly --
And th' earth looks sorter wide;
An' I hear his voice a-callin',
Sayin', "Daddy, come an' see!"
An' I find him makin' gardens
Where a rock pile uster be --
An' I shout, "How goes it, sonny?"
An' my heart feels light an' gay,
Fer he's singin' -- lil' feller --
In th' mornin' o' th' day.

Lil' feller, an' his gardens!
It don't matter much ter him,
If th' hoein's hard an' tedgious,
An' th' crop he grows is slim;
Fer he loves ter be a-workin',
An' he loves ter see things start
Outer nothin'. . . . There's a garden
In th' rock-bed o' my heart
That he's planted, just by singin'
In his odd, ole-fashioned way --
'Cause he's glad, MY LIL' FELLER,
In th' mornin' o' th' day!

TO AN OLD SCHOOLHOUSE

Down by the end of the lane it stands,
Where the sumac grows in a crimson thatch,
Down where the sweet wild berry patch,
Holds out a lure for eager hands.
Down at the end of the lane, who knows
The ghosts that sit at the well-scarred seats,
When the moon is dark, and the gray sky meets
With the dawn time light, and a chill wind blows?

Ghosts -- well not ghosts, perhaps, but dreams --
Rather like wistful shades, that stand
Waiting a look or an outstretched hand,
To call them back where the morning gleams --
Dreams of the hopes we had, that died,
Dreams of the vivid youth we sold;
Dreams of a pot of rainbow gold --
Gold that we sought for, eager-eyed !

Dreams of the plans we made, that sleep
With the lesson books on the dusty rack,
Of the joyous years that will not come back --
That are drowned in the tears we have learned to
weep.
Ghosts did I call them! Sweet they are
As a plant that grows in a desert place,
Sweet as a dear remembered face --
Sweet as a pale, courageous star.

Where the sumac grows in a flaming wall,
It stands, at the end of a little lane,
And there do the children come again,
Answering, still, the bell's shrill call,
Just as we came, with their songs unsung,
And their hopes all new, and their dreams dew
kissed,
Brave as the sun in a land of mist --
JUST AS WE CAME WHEN THE WORLD WAS YOUNG!

THE OLD SAILOR

I've crossed the bar at last, mates,
My longest voyage is done;
And I can sit here, peaceful,
And watch th' setting sun
A-smilin' kind of glad like
Upon the waves so free.
My longest voyage is done, mates,
But oh, the heart of me,
Is out where sea meets skyline!
My longest voyage is done. . . .
But -- can I sit, in peace, mates,
And watch the settin' sun?

For what's a peaceful life, mates,
When every breeze so free,
When every gale a-blowin',
Brings messages to me?
And is the sky so shinin',
For all it's golden sun,
To one who loves the sea, mates,
And knows his voyage is done?
And, can a year on land, mates,
Match with one day -- at sea?
Ah, every wind a-singin'
Brings memory to me!

I've crossed the bar at last, mates,
My longest voyage is past,
And I must watch the sunset,
Must see it fade, at last.
My steps are not so light, mates,
As they were, years ago;
And sometimes, when I'm tired,
My head droops kind of low --
Yet, though I'm old and -- weary,
The waves that dance so free,
Keep callin' to my soul, mates,
And thrill the heart of me!

THE RIVER AND THE TREE

"You are white and tall and swaying," sang the river
to the tree,
"And your leaves are touched with silver -- but you
never smile on me;
For your branches murmur love songs to the sun-
kissed turquoise sky,
And you seem so far above me that I always hurry
by!"

"You are laughing in your shallows, you are somber
in your deeps,
And below your shining surface there's a heart that
never sleeps;
But all day you pass me, dancing, and at evening
time you dream,
And I didn't think you liked me," sang the birch-
tree to the stream.

So they got a bit acquainted on a glowing summer
day,
And they found they liked each other (which is often
times the way);
And the river got so friendly, and it ran so very slow,
That the birch-tree shone reflected in the water down
below!

AUTUMN SONG

Let's go down the road together, you and I,
Let's go down the road together,
Through the vivid autumn weather;
Let's go down the road together when the red leaves
fly.
Let's go searching, searching after
Joy and mirth and love and laughter --
Let's go down the road together, you and I.

Let's go hunting for adventure, you and I,
For the romance we are knowing
Waits for us, alive and glowing,
For the romance that has always passed us by.
Let's have done with tears and sighing,
What if summer-time IS dying?
Let's go hunting for adventure, you and I.

Let's go down the road together, you and I --
And if you are frightened lest you
Weary grow, my arms will rest you,
As we take the road together when the red leaves fly.
Springtime is the time for mating?
Ah, a deeper love is waiting
Down the autumn road that calls us, you and I!

THE CITY --
TOWERS AND CANYONS, AND SLUMS,
MAN BUILT. . . .

AND SOULS,
GOD BUILT!

SCARLET FLOWERS

The window box across the street
Is filled with scarlet flowers;
They glow, like bits of sunset cloud,
Across the dragging hours.
What though the mist be like a shroud
What though the day be dreary?
The window box across the street
Is warm, and gay, and cheery!

The window box across the street
Is filled with scarlet flowers;
I almost catch their perfume sweet. . . .
Above the sound of tramping feet,
They sing of country bowers.
Against the house that looms so gray,
They smile in -- well, a friendly way.

A tired shop girl hurries by;
Their color seems to catch her eye;
She pauses, starts, and wistfully
She gazes up. It seems to me
That I can hear her longing sigh. . . .
A little shop girl hurries by.

A newsboy stops to sell his wares;
The crowds brush by him; no one cares
To buy his papers. But above
The scarlet flowers bravely grow
In token of the Father's love. . . .
The crowds brush coldly by below.

A blind man stumbles, groping past;
He cannot see their scarlet shine;
And yet some memory seems to twine
About his soul.
For, oh, he turns
As trusting as a child who yearns
For some vague dream, and smilingly
He lifts the eyes that cannot see. . . .
A blind man stumbles, groping past.

The window box across the street
Is filled with scarlet flowers;
They tell a secret, tender, sweet,
Through all the dreary hours.
And folk who hurry on their way
Dream of some other brighter day. . . .
The window box across the street
Is filled with scarlet flowers.

ON FIFTH AVENUE

I walked down Fifth Avenue the other day
(In the languid summertime everybody strolls down
Fifth Avenue);
And I passed women, dainty in their filmy frocks,
And much bespatted men with canes.
And great green busses lumbered past me,
And impressive limousines, and brisk little "lectrics.

I walked down Fifth Avenue the other day,
And the sunshine smiled at me,
And something, deep in my heart, burst into song.
And then, all at once, I saw her --
A woman with painted lips and rouge-touched
cheeks --
Standing in front of a jeweler's window.
She was looking at diamonds --
A tray of great blue-white diamonds --
And I saw a flame leap out of her eyes to meet them
(Greedy eyes they were, and cold, like too-perfect
jewels);
And I realized, for the first time,
That diamonds weren't always pretty.

And then I SAW THE OTHER ONE:
A thin little girl looking into a florist's shop
At a fragrant mass of violets, dew-purple and fresh.
She carried a huge box on her arm,
And a man, passing, said loudly,
"I guess somebody's hat'll be late today!"
And the thin little girl flushed and hurried on,
But not before I had seen the tenderness in her eyes --
The tenderness that real women show
When they look at vast rolling hills, or flowers, or
very small pink babies.

I walked down Fifth Avenue the other day.
(All the world walks, leisurely, down Fifth Avenue
in the summertime.)

FROM A CITY WINDOW

The dust is thick on the city street,
The smoke on the city sky
Hangs dense and gray at the close of day --
And the city crowds surge by
With heavy feet through the summer heat
Like a sluggish sullen tide; ...
But hand in hand through a magic land
We are wandering side by side.

For somewhere, dear, there's a magic land
On the shores of a silver sea;
And there is a boat with turquoise sails --
With sails that are wide and free;
A boat that is whirling through the spray,
That is coming for you and me!

Somewhere, dear, there's a singing breeze
That creeps through the laughing air
To the wide-flung boughs of a blue-black tree --
It touches your joyous hair;
And the touch of it is as soft and light
As a baby's lisping prayer.

Somewhere, dear, there's a bit of beach
Where the sand is warm and white;
Where the sky seems close and the drifting clouds
Are tenderly, warmly bright.
And there is a ship with turquoise sails,
With sails like a living light!

Ah, the ship is bringing us dreams come true,
And hopes that are all dew-kissed;
It is bringing us days that are all aglow
With scarlet and amethyst; . . .
Bringing us faith to find our way
Through a world that is wrapped in mist.

Our window looks on the city street,
We can glimpse the city sky;
But our hearts are gay at the close of day,
Though the tired crowds pass by
With heavy feet through the blinding heat,
Like a sullen, sluggish tide. . . .
For hand in hand through a magic land.
We are wandering side by side.

THE LADY ACROSS THE COURT

She only comes when night is near,
And stands a moment quietly
Beside her window, in the dusk --
She lives across the court from me --
And though I cannot see her eyes
Because she is too far away,
I somehow feel that they are kind,
And very soft, and widely gray!

Her hands are only dim white blurs,
That rest against the window pane;
And yet I know that they are firm,
And cool and sweet as April rain.
And, oh, I cannot help but wish
As, through the dark, I go to bed,
That they might rest a moment like
A little prayer upon my head!

She only comes when night is near,
I do not know who she can be;
I never see her anywhere
But just across the court from me. . . .
I am so small the curtains hide
The wistful smiles that I have smiled,
And yet I, somehow, think she feels
The love of me -- a lonely child.

TO A PORCELAIN PUPPY DOG

Oh, pudgy porcelain puppy dog from far-away Japan,
I saw you in a shop to-day where lonesomely you
sat
Upon a velvet cushion that was colored gold and
purple,
Between a bowl of goldfish, and a sleeping wooden
cat.

I wonder what you thought about as stolidly you sat
there,
A grin of faint derision on your pudgy porcelain
face;
I wonder if you dreamed about some cherry blossom
tea house,
And if the goldfish bored you in their painted
Chinese case?

I wonder if you dreamed about the laughter of the
geishas
As languidly they danced across the shining
lacquered floor,
I wonder if your thoughts were with a purple clump
of iris
That bloomed, all through the summer, by the
little tea house door?

I wonder if you hated us who passed, you by unheeding,
You who had known the temples of another, older
land?
And, oh, I wonder if you knew when I had paused
beside you
To pat you, porcelain puppy dog, that I could
understand?

COLORS

I love color.
I love flaming reds,
And vivid greens,
And royal flaunting purples.
I love the startled rose of the sun at dawning,
And the blazing orange of it at twilight.

I love color.
I love the drowsy blue of the fringed gentian,
And the yellow of the goldenrod,
And the rich russet of the leaves
That turn at autumn-time. . . .
I love rainbows,
And prisms,
And the tinsel glitter
Of every shop-window.

I love color.
And yet today,
I saw a brown little bird
Perched on the dull-gray fence
Of a weed-filled city yard.
And as I watched him
The little bird
Threw back his head
Defiantly, almost,
And sang a song
That was full of gay ripples,
And poignant sweetness,
And half-hidden melody.

1 love color. ...
I love crimson, and azure,
And the glowing purity of white.
And yet today,
I saw a living bit of brown,
A vague oasis on a streak of gray,
That brought heaven
Very near to me.

POSSESSION
(A TENEMENT MOTHER SPEAKS)

Y' ain't as pretty as some babies are --
But, oh, yer mine!
Yer lil' fingers sorter seem t' twine
Aroun' my soul.
Yer eyes are bright, t' me, as any star,
Yer hair's like gol'.

Some people say yer hair is sandy-red,
An' that yer eyes is sorter wan an' pale,
An' that yer lil' body looks, well, frail. . ..
Y' ain't been fed
Like rich folks children are. . . .
It takes fresh air
Ter keep a baby fat an' strong an' pink!
It takes more care,
'N I have time ter give. . . .
An' yet, if God'll only let yer live --

When yer first came,
An' when I seen yer face, deep down inside
My heart I felt -- well, sorter broke an' tore,
'Cause when yer came ter me I like ter died,
An' I had lost my job, there at th' store.
I looked at you, an' oh, it wasn't pride
I felt, but bitterness an' shame!

An' then yer gropin' fingers touched my hand,
As helpless as a snow-flake in the air,
Yer didn't know, yer couldn't understand,
('Cause yer was new t' this cold-hearted land),
That life ain't fair!
Yer didn't know if I was good, 'r bad,
'R much ter see --
Y' only knew that I belonged, an' oh,
Yer trusted me!

Somehow, right there, I didn't stop ter think
That yer was white an' thin -- instead o' pink,
An' that yer lips, an' not yer eyes, was blue. . .
I got t' thinkin' how, when work was through
I'd sing t' yer, an' rock yer off t' rest.
I got t' thinkin' that I had been blessed,
More than th' richest girl I'd ever knew!
An' oh, I held yer tight against my breast,
An', lookin' far ahead, I dreamed an' planned
That I would work th' fingers off my hand
Fer you!
An' mother-love swept on me like a tide,
An', oh, I cried!

Some people say yer hair is sandy-red,
But they don't know;
They say yer eyes is sorter pale an' weak,
But it ain't so!
It's jus' because yer never been well fed,
An' never had a lil' cribby bed;
It's jus' because yer never had a peek
At th' blue sky --
That's why!

Yer ain't so pretty as some babies are,
But, oh, t' me yer like a silver star
That, through th' darkest night can smile an'
shine. . . .
Yer ain't as pretty as some babies are,
But, God, yer mine!

LIGHTS OF THE CITY

He was young,
And his mind
Was filled with the science of economics
That he had studied in college.
And as we talked about the food riots,
And high prices,
And jobless men,
He said:
"It's all stupid and wrong,
"This newspaper talk!
"Folk have no business to starve.
"The price of labor always advances,
"Proportionally,
"With the price of food!"

"Any man," he said,
A moment later,
"Can earn at least two dollars a day
"By working on a railroad,
"Or in the street cleaning department!
"What if potatoes DO cost
"Eight cents a pound?
"Wages are high, too. . . .
"People have no reason to starve."

I listened to him prayerfully
(More or less),
For I had never been to college,
And I didn't know much about economics.

But --
As I walked to the window,
And looked out over the veiled, mysterious lights
Of the city,
I couldn't help thinking
Of a little baby
That I had seen a few days ago;
A baby of the slums -- thin, and joyless,
And old of face,
But with eyes
Like the eyes of the Christ Child. . . .
A baby -- crying for bread --

And. . . . I wondered. . . .

STEEL

They think that we're just animals, almost,
We men who work with steel.
A lady visitor was here th' other day,
She looked at me, an' I could hear her say,
"My, what a life! I s'pose his only boast
"Is muscles!"
She's wrong. We feel
A certain pride, a certain sort o' joy,
When some great blazin' mass is tamed an' turned
Into an engine wheel. Our hands get burned,
An' sometimes half our hair is scorched away --
But, well, it's fun!
Perhaps you've seen a boy,
Who did hard work he loved, an' called it play?
Know what I mean? Well, that's the way we feel,
We men who work with steel.

A lady visitor was here th' other day;
She held her skirts right dainty in her hand,
An' as she passed me by, I heard her say,
"I wonder what he THINKS -- or if his head
"Is just a piece o' metal, too!" She said
It laughin'-like.
She didn't understand,
She couldn't know that we have dreams as grand,
As any SHE could have. We wonder where
Th' rivets that we make are goin' to,
An' if th' engine wheels we turn, will go
Through tropic heat, or if they'll plow through snow;
An' as we watch, we sorter grow to care
About th' steel. Why it's as shiny blue
As j'ew'ls! An' every bit is, well, a part
Of life to us. Sometimes my very heart
Thanks God that I've a man-sized job to do!

MUSIC OF THE SLUMS

I. THE VlOLIN-MAKER

Over a slum his sign swings out,
Over a street where the city's shout
Is deadened into a sob of pain --
Where even joy has a minor strain.

"Violins made," read the sign. It swings
Over a street where sorrow sings;
Over a street where people give
Their right to laugh for a chance to live.

He works alone with his head bent low
And all the sorrow and all the woe,
And all the pride of a banished race,
Stare from the eyes that light his face.

But he never sighs and his slender hand,
Fastens the cat-gut, strand by strand --
Fastens it tight, but tenderly
As if he dreams of some melody.

Some melody of his yesterday. . . .
Will it, I wonder, find its way
Out to the world, when fingers creep
Over the strings that lie asleep?

Or will the city's misery
Mould the song in a tragic key --
Making its sweetest, faintest breath
Thrill with sorrow, and throb with death?

Maker of music -- who can know
Where the work of his hand shall go?
Maybe its slightest phrase will bring,
Comfort to ease the suffering --

Maybe his dreams will have their part
Buried deep in the music's heart. . . .
Out of a chain of dreary days,
Joy may come as some master plays!

Over a slum his sign hangs out,
Over a street where dread meets doubt --
"Violins made," reads the sign. It swings
Over a street where sorrow sings.

II. THE PARK BAND

(Side by side and silent -- eagerly they stand --
Souls look out of tired eyes, hands are clasped
together,
Through the thrilling softness of the late spring
weather,
All a city slum is out to listen to the band.)

Young love and Maytime, hear the joyous strain,
Listen to a serenade written long ago!
You will recognize the song -- you who care must
know
Fear that blends with happiness, joy that touches
pain.

Rabbi with the grizzled beard hear adventure's story!
Hear the tale the music tells, thrilling with ro-
mance,
Hear the clatter of a sword, hear a broken lance
Falling from some hero's hand, red with blood-
stained glory.

(Tenements on either side, light-flecked in the gloam-
ing,
Tenements on either side, stark and tall and gray --
Ah, the folk who line your halls wander far away,
All a crowded city slum is a-gypsie roaming!)

Woman with the brooding gaze, hear the lilting
laughter
Of the children that you loved, feel their soft-
lipped kisses;
Think of all the little joys that a hard world
misses-
What though bitter loneliness always follows after?

Gangster with the shifty eyes, listen to the sighing
Of the hymn tune that you heard at your mother's
knee;
Listen to the restless ghost of the used-to-be,
Listen to a wistful ghost's empty-hearted crying.

(Tenements on either side -- menacing they stand --
Light-flecked in the softness of the late spring
weather. . . .
But young love and broken life are standing close
together,
And all a city slum is out to listen to the band.)

III. THE ORGAN MAN

He's very old, his music box is old and rusty, too,
And half the notes of it are harsh, and half of
them are slow;
One wonders if the coat he wears could ever have
been new --
And if the tune he plays was quite forgotten long
ago.

He finds a sunny place to stand, and lifts his bleary
eyes,
And smiles a bit -- a toothless smile half touched,
perhaps, with fear;
And though he cannot see them he is looking at the
skies,
As if he prays, but silently, for hope and faith
and cheer.

The foreign women pass him by, their tarnished coins
held tight,
They toss their heads and will not hear his music's
wistful hum --
But through each alley way and street, like moths
that seek the light,
With eager eyes and laughing lips the little chil-
dren come.

He plays his ancient, shaky song, his mouth moves to
its sway,
He does not know the tune of it is old and out of
key;
For, through his eyes, a soul stares out that wanders
far away,
In some fair land of youth and love -- some land
that used to be.

The little children cluster close, bareheaded, bare of
limb --
They hold their ragged frocks and dance, they do
not care -- or know,
That they are like a garden place, a fragrant dream
to him,
Or that the tune he plays was quite forgotten long
ago.

"BE OF GOOD CHEER!"

Temptation came to me today,
And oh, I felt that I must stray
Down primrose paths, forgetting all. . . .
The city's fevered, siren call
Spoke to my soul, its whispered cry
Said, "Live, for Youth, too soon, will die!"

So all alone, when work was done,
I sought the park. The setting sun
Had left a bit of warmth for me --
I found a bench beneath a tree,
And sat and thought.
My life is hard,
Sometimes my heart seems battle-scarred,
With longings keen, and bitter fears,
And want, and suffering, and tears.

Temptation spoke, and Youth spoke back;
The night seemed cold and grimly black,
And every light was like a star
That cleft the sky -- they were so far,
So very far away! And I
Was lonely, there, beneath the sky. . . .

There used to be a little farm
A tiny place, remote from harm;
There used to be a mother frail
And sweet, with hair as silver-pale
As the faint moon. She heard me say
The words when first I learned to pray. . . .

Above me in the silent trees,
I heard the rustles of the breeze,
It sounded like her step, as light
As dreams across an endless night.
My mother --
Ah, the name so sweet,
Brought memories on noiseless feet,
And softly in the darkness, there,
I breathed my little childhood prayer. . . .

Do prayers have answers? As I prayed
A Presence came, and gently laid
A Hand upon my arm. I knew
That Someone kind, and good, and true
Was very near. Upon my soul
A peace swept down, and left it whole.
I felt a calm steal over me,
The same that stilled the troubled sea
Where Jesus walked.
My fears were laid,
Temptation left me unafraid.
And as I smiled, there in the park,
A voice spoke through the fragrant dark.
"Be of good cheer!" the words rang out
Like music through the city's shout.

And all the lights that I could see
Were stars of home, agleam for me!

FROM MY ROOM

I love you, dear. . . .
Here, alone in my room tonight, it is all that matters,
Out through my window, vaguely hushed, the city
clatters,
Telling ever its tale of woe and mirth,
Sighing ever its song of death and birth,
Singing ever its potent, mad refrain,
Swept with tears and the bitter weight of pain.

Here in my room I kneel, alone, to pray,
But there seems very little, dear, to say
Even to God. So, kneeling by my bed,
I think dim thoughts, and dream long dreams instead.
Wide-eyed I kneel and watch the candle flame,
Making swift shadows on the wall; your name
Throbs in my heart, and makes my pulse to thrill --
Wide-eyed I kneel, with soul a-light, until
Somewhere a clock starts chiming. . . . It is
late. . . .
Out through the dark wan tenderness and hate
Press pale kisses upon the city's lips --
Dawn comes creeping, the weary nighttime slips
Furtively by, like some hurt thief with plunder. . . .
Dear, I cross to my window, and I wonder
Whether you are asleep, or if you lie,
Sleepless beneath the smoke-hung purple sky. . . .

Down in the streets the tired city vaguely clatters,
Here alone in my room I stand, and nothing matters,
Only. . . . I love you!

THE BALCONY SCENES

The stage is set, like a garden,
And the lights are flickering and low;
And a Romeo with fat legs,
Is telling a Juliet with dyed hair and tired,
disillusioned eyes,
That love -- real love -- is the only thing in the world.

And up in the balcony of the theatre
Where the seats cost twenty-five cents,
A slim little girl in a shiny serge frock,
And a boy with a wistful mouth
Are holding hands.
And as they listen, breathlessly, to the studied voice
of the actor,
Their fingers are all a-thrill,
With the music of the ages.

A BOWERY PAWN-SHOP

A dusty, musty little shop set in a dingy street,
A doorsill old and scarred and worn by many tired
feet,
A row of cases, vaguely glassed, a safe against the
wall,
And, oh, the ache of many hearts -- the fabric of it
all!

A violin with broken strings that fingers have
caressed,
A diamond-set betrothal ring that lover's lips have
pressed,
A high shell comb, a spangled fan, a filmy bit of lace,
A heart-shaped locket, ribbon-tied, that frames a
laughing face.

A pair of blankets folded up, an overcoat, a shawl,
A tall old clock that might have chimed in some
wainscoted hall,
And in the farthest corner, where the purple shadows
lie,
The echo of a woman's sob, the phantom of a sigh.

Ah, wedding-rings -- a score of them -- not many of
them new,
A grim revolver laid beside a baby's tiny shoe,
A satin coat, a ragged gown, a gold-clasped book of
verse,
A necklace of bedraggled pearls, an empty silver
purse.

A dreary weary little shop set in a sunless place.
A little shop where love has met with sorrow and
disgrace. . . .
A row of cases, double-locked, a safe against the wall;
And, oh, the ache of countless hearts that lies
behind it all!

SPRING IN THE CITY

I saw a crocus blooming in the park,
I felt a hint of magic in the air,
I heard faint music sighing everywhere,
And so, as all the world, grew softly dark --

I found again the hope that never dies,
And hungrily, with out-flung arms, I came
Once more to you. And when you spoke my
name
I read springtime eternal in your eyes!

ROSE PETALS IN THE EARLY RAIN,
FORGOTTEN DREAMS,
AND A TORN SKETCH BOOK!

LI'L EMPTY CLOSET

There's a li'l empty closet in a li'l empty room,
Where th' shadows lie like dust upon th' floor;
It uster be HIS closet not s' very long ago --
That's why I don't go near it any more.
Every li'l hook is empty, 'ceptin' one, an' from it
hangs
(Th' whitest li'l ghost that ever grew
In a heart that's near ter breakin' with it's agony o'
grief! )
An empty flannel nightie piped with blue.

Jus' a li'l flannel nightie that was shrunken in th'
wash,
In spots th' blue has ran inter th' white;
But I've seen him in it, sleepy, when I tucked th'
covers in,
An' kissed him, soft, an took away th' light.
Jus' a li'l flannel nightie, hangin' empty on a hook,
As if it was ashamed -- or in disgrace --
Jus' a li'l flannel nightie an' it ain't no use no more,
But I couldn't bear t' take it from its place!

Jus' a li'l empty closet in a li'l empty room,
Where th' shadows lie like dust upon th' floor --
It uster be his closet, where I'd put his clothes away,
That's why I hate ter go there any more.
But I've left his li'l nightie hangin' on a single hook,
I sorter had ter leave it there, I guess;
Ah, that li'l empty closet in that li'l empty room
Is crowded -- crowded ful o' loneliness!

TWO LULLABYS

I. To A DREAM BABY

Oh, little child whose face I cannot see,
I feel your presence very near tonight,
I feel the warmth of you creep close to me. . .
The grey moths drift across the candlelight,
And tiny shadows sway across the floor,
Like wistful elves who do a fairy dance;
The wind is tapping softly at the door,
And rain is beating, like a silver lance,
Against the tightly curtained window pane.
Oh, little child whose face I cannot see,
The loneliness, the twilight, and the rain,
Have brought your dearness very close to me.
And though I rock with empty arms, I sing
A lullaby that I have made to croon
Into your drowsy shadow ear -- a song
About the star sheep and the shepherd moon!

II. POPPY LAND

Sleep, little tired eyes, close to the heart of me,
Sleep while the sun trembles low in the west;
You who are dream of my dreams, and a part of
me --
Sleep with your head lying warm on my breast.

Dear, there's a land that is filled with red flowers,
Poppies, they call them, that sway in the breeze;
Sometimes their petals, in soft scarlet showers,
Fall in warm drifts that are high as your
knees. . . .
Dear, in your dreams you will laugh as you roll
through them,
Waving your arms in an effort to creep;
Gently they nod as the wind sings its soul through
them,
Sleep, little tired eyes, sleep. . . .

Dear, in this land there's a sky like a feather,
Blue in some places, or white as a star;
And there's a fragrance -- a plant that's called heather
Grows in the spot where the butterflies are.
Dear, there are pastures as gay as glad laughter,
Dotted with hundreds of woolly white sheep,
Dear, you can pat them, for they'll follow after
You, as you sleep. . . .

Dream, little tired eyes, close to the breast of me,
Wander in fields where red flowers are gloaming;
All of my heart wanders with you, the rest of me
Watches your dreaming. . . .

I DREAMED YOUR FACE

I dreamed your face, one night, when Heaven seemed
resting,
Against the troubled fever of the earth;
I dreamed that vivid throated birds were nesting,
In trees that shook with elfin-hearted mirth.
I dreamed that star-like purple flowers were springing
A-throb with perfume all about the place,
And that there was a far-off sound of singing --
And then -- I dreamed your face!

I dreamed your face, and then I waked from
dreaming,
(The creeping dawn seemed very cold and bare!)
The rising sun seemed pallid in its beaming,
Because its coming did not find you there!
And I -- I rose despondent in the morning,
As one whose burning thirst has not been slaked;
I dreamed your face, a wonder world adorning,
And then -- I waked.

And so I went upon a quest to find you,
A quest that led through many bitter years;
I journeyed far with strands of love to bind you,
And found, not you, but bitterness and tears --
So I returned, discouraged, through the gloaming,
My shoulders bowed with weariness unguessed;
I came back, unsuccessful, from my roaming --
My sorry quest!

I had a bit of garden that I tended,
It helped me dream, again, my dream of you --
It was a joyous place of colors blended --
A place where pansies and Sweet William grew.
And one bright day I hummed as I was planting
A border row of flowers slim and fair,
And raised my eyes to see pale sunlight slanting
Across your hair!

ANSWER

I am myself -- you cannot take my dreams
And pull the filmy stuff of them apart!
I am myself -- and life IS what it seems.
I am myself, and love is in my heart!
You cannot make me think by fast set rule,
You cannot laugh beliefs like mine away,
Experience MAY be a bitter school,
And yet. . . . The golden sun shines every day,
And stars at night lend magic to the sky,
And all the world is vividly a-glow,
You cannot make me pause to question why
For we who dare to dream have learned to know!

THE WORLD IS RIGHT! There is a friendly One
Who smiles when we have tried to do our part --
I will not flinch, my journey's just begun. . . .
I AM MYSELF -- YOU CANNOT BREAK MY HEART!

A BABY'S HANDS

God made the rivers, the hills, and the seas,
God made the flowers, the grass, and the trees;
God made the clouds, and the waves, silver-crested,
Then God made the hands of a baby -- and rested!

How did He make them? Well, nobody knows --
Some say He dreamed of the bud of a rose,
And that He woke as the dawn swept away
Night in the dancing pink promise of day.

Maybe He thought of the light of a star,
(That's why He made them as soft as they are!)
Maybe He watched while a new butterfly,
Light as a sunbeam, went fluttering by.

Maybe He walked in a garden, dew-kissed,
That's why He made them as frail as the mist --
Then as He leaned from His heaven above,
God made them strong as His greatest gift -- LOVE!

God made the mountains -- we wonder at these --
God made the splendor of sunsets and trees;
God made vast mines where a world's wealth is piled,
Then God made the hands of a baby -- and smiled!

ALL ALONG THE BROAD HIGHWAY

All along the broad highway the little dreams were
growing,
White as hope, and red as life, and bluer than the
sea --
All along the broad highway I felt their petals
blowing,
Like a storm of fragrant snow across the lips of
me!
So I danced with joyous heart, and bent above them
singing.
So I skipped along the road and smiled into the
skies;
ALL ALONG THE BROAD HIGHWAY THE LITTLE DREAMS WERE
SPRINGING,
FRAGRANT AS THE DEW OF STARS AND GLAD AS BUTTERFLIES!

All along the broad highway I danced and sang unheeding,
Till One came with haughty step and traveled by
my side;
Traveled first beside my path then, suddenly, was
leading --
One who drew me after him and murmured, "I AM
PRIDE!"
All along the broad highway I hurried, ever faster,
Faster through the purple dust that blinded like
a mist,
Blinded me until I felt that only Pride was master,
(And I saw the little dreams through clouds of
amethyst!)

All along the broad highway I toiled, no longer
glancing
Anywhere but straight ahead . . . I had no
heart to sing --
All along the broad highway, my feet no longer
dancing;
Followed I the steps of Pride, and felt the thick
dust sting
In the tired eyes of me . . . the eyes too sad for
weeping!
Still I struggled -- struggled on until quite
suddenly --
All the strength that kept me up seemed drowsy,
almost sleeping --
And I paused with drooping head and lo, Pride
went from me!

All along the broad highway the silent dusk was
stealing,
Quite alone I stood and stared about me in the
gloom;
And the voice of me was still, and my heart was
kneeling
Like a weary pilgrim soul in an attic room.
And I stretched my empty hands to where the ghostly
lighting,
Showed a crumpled mist of blue, a heap of white
and red --
There along the broad highway like armies after
fighting,
All the gallant little dreams were lying gaunt and
dead!

MY MOTHER

My mother's kinder chubby -- she's fat, th' fellers
say --
My mother's kinder chubby, but I like her that a-way!
'Cause she's awful sorter jolly, an' she makes th'
bestest pies,
An' she laughs when I'm a-jokin' 'till th' tears are in
her eyes.
An' she pats me on th' shoulder when I'm feelin'
sad an' blue,
An' whispers, "Little feller, yer mother's proud o'
you!"

She don't wear silks 'at rustle, like Tommie's mother
does,
But I like her gingham better 'cause it's -- well, just
'cause it's hers!
An' she don't look young an' girl-like, an' her hands
are sorter red,
But, my, they're awful gentle when she tucks you
inter bed. . . .
She hasn't got a di'mond like th' lady crost th' street,
But she's got two great big dimples, an' her smile is
mighty sweet!

My mother's sorter chubby -- but say, her step is
light --
She's never cross 'r tired -- not even when it's night!
An' her shoulders JUST as comfy when yer heart is
feelin' sore,
When you wish you was a baby -- an' not a boy no
more --
Oh, her arms are cushion tender at th' twilight time
o' day,
Yes -- my mother's sorter chubby -- But I like her that
a-way!

HEREDITY

You told me, last night,
In a strange and sudden burst of confidence;
That a New England ancestor of yours,
Had burned witches --
And at last I knew. . . .

Why your eyes are always so grim,
And why your mouth is cut,
In a straight line,
And why you can never see beauty and mirth
In the sweep of wind over a wheat field,
Or in the sunlight on a baby's hair.
At last I knew
Why you can never see romance
In the long gypsie trail,
Or magic,
In the still purple woods.

I knew why life,
To you,
Was something to be struggled with,
Not a glorious adventure;
And why death was the end of things,
And not the beginning.
And I knew at last,
Why you could never understand,
That tears may cover laughter,
And that laughter may be a veil
For tears.

You told me, last night,
That an ancestor of yours,
Had burned witches,
And, oh, as I sat in the candlelight,
Watching you,
I couldn't help wishing,
That somewhere behind you, in the shadows,

There was another ancestor --
A gay cavalier ancestor --
Who rode hard,
And fought with his sword,
And wore his hat, rakishly,
On the back of his head,
And knew -- love.

APRIL

I had not meant to love again -- all that was lost to
me,
For I had felt love's fear and pain, as well as ecstasy;
I closed my heart, and locked the door, and tossed
away the key.

All through the winter-time I sat before my flaming
fire,
And listened to the sleigh-bells chime, and watched
the flames leap higher,
To grasp at shadows, sombre-hued, with fiendish, red
desire.

And then mad April came again -- I felt the breezes
blowing,
And I forgot the fear, the pain. . . . I only knew
that, glowing,
In shady nook and garden spot, pale hyacinths were
growing.

And when across the perfumed lea (for nothing could
defeat him! )
My vagrant love crept back to me . . . I did not
mean to greet him;
But April opened up my heart, and, oh, I ran to
meet him!

THE DESERT PATH -- SEVEN SONNETS

I.

The camel tracks led whitely across the desert sand,
And one came riding after with furtive mystery;
Ah, one came swiftly riding, a dagger in his hand,
And he was bent on plunder -- a nomad thief was he!
He did not heed the starshine that glimmered from
on high,
For laden beasts had traveled along the lonely way.
He did not see the glory that swept the Eastern sky,
For he had far to journey before the dawn of day.

He followed through the desert, and then at last he
saw
An inn upon the outskirts of some small village place;
And there were camels resting before the stable
door --
He left his horse, crept nearer, with greed upon his
face;
And peering o'er the threshold, he saw that gold was
piled,
With precious stones and incense, before a little
Child.

II.

A thief he was by calling, who to the stable came,
A thief whose youthful fingers had learned to steal
their fill;
A thief he was who valued his heritage of shame,
YET STANDING BY THAT DOORWAY, HE DID NOT WANT TO
KILL!
A thief he was, but -- watching, -- he saw a Baby face,
And, bending near, a Mother, whose joy was undefiled;
And for one breathless moment across the stable
space,
The Baby's eyes gazed at him -- AND THEN THE BABY
SMILED!

A thief he was by calling, but there beside the door
He saw a Holy Vision -- he knelt and tried to pray --
And something, thrilling, whispered of love forever-
more --
And then he rose, half weeping -- and it was Christmas Day!
A thief he was by calling, who felt the Father's plan,
But back across the desert there silent rode a man!

III.

The years are met as milestones upon a winding road,
And some slip by like shadows, and some are fair
with flowers;
And some seem dreary, hopeless -- a leaden chain of
hours --
And some are like a heart-throb, and some a heavy
load,
The thief, a thief no longer, a lonely figure strode
Heart-weary down life's pathway, through tempest
and through showers,
But always prayed that somewhere among sweet-
scented bowers,
A Baby's smile might show him where happiness
abode.

For he was often hungry -- a thief, reformed, must
eat --
And there were folk who shunned him, and turned
his plea away;
And there were those who scourged him from out
the market place --
(They were the ones who told him to earn his bread
and meat!)
Yet ever he walked onward, and dreamed of some
fair day
When he would find the Christ-Child with love upon
His face!

IV.

Where work lay for the asking it seemed that men
MIGHT work,
But prejudice was rampant in every shop and field;
And, "What if you ARE trying, MY scythe you may
not wield!"
Men told the thief, who answered -- "Indeed, I will
not shirk!"
And carpenters and builders turned from him with
a smirk,
And farmers hurried by him to house the harvest's
yield.
And so he took his dagger, all rusted, and his shield,
And sought again the highway where thieves and
jackals lurk.

And yet the spark of manhood still flamed within his
heart,
And still he saw the Baby, beyond the stable door;
And oftentimes at even, as crimson daytime died,
He knelt, a sorry figure, from all of life apart.
And, "Oh, if I could see Him -- and feel His love
once more,
"If I could see Him smiling, I would not steal!" he
cried.

V.

It was a glowing ruby that caused the thief to fall,
But -- he was very hungry, and lonely, too, and cold;
And youth lay all behind him, a tattered funeral
pall,
For he was very tired, and he was growing old.
It was a glowing ruby that lay upon the breast
Of one who had not earned it, who wore it with a
sneer;
The thief was very weary, he only longed for rest;
He was too wan for caring, he was too numb for fear!

It was a glowing ruby -- he held it in his hand --
His hand was thin and withered, it shook beneath
the gem;
He took the vivid ruby, the ransom of a land,
And tied it firmly, tightly, within his garment's hem;
And then he shuffled forward, but like a thorn
within
His soul he bore the torment of bitterness and sin!

VI.

They caught him when the morning had tinged the
Eastern skies;
The gem was found upon him, as red as guilty blood;
He stood, his head sunk forward, with listless, shal-
low eyes,
And hopelessness submerged him like some unholy
flood;
A Thief he was by calling. The law? The law
was great;
What chance had he for pity? His fate was sealed
and done;
He was unclean, an outcast, a menace to the state;
A thing to be avoided, a stain against the sun!

They led him to his hearing, the hall was still and
light;
A judge was seated higher, who passed him with a
glance;
And suddenly, forgetting his weariness and fright,
The thief cried, leaping forward, "I did not have a
chance!"
The judgment hall was spacious, and coldly white
and wide --
And coldly came the sentence -- "He shall be crucified!"

VII.

They nailed him, God's creation, upon a cross of
shame;
They nailed him up with laughter, they heeded not
his tears;
And people looking at him were moved to soulless
jeers,
And agony was on him -- a searing, breathless flame!
And then, as he hung sobbing, a sudden feeling came
Of peace that, reaching toward him across the sound
of sneers,
Was like a burst of music that one more feels than
hears --
For, from somewhere beside him, a Voice had
breathed his name.

Ah, he was weak with anguish, and yet he turned his
head,
And saw a cross beside him, and on the cross a Form;
And he forgot the tumult, the horror and the storm --
And someone, down below him, said, "Look, the thief
is dead!"
But, safe from fear and torture beyond their scornful cries,
The thief had gazed at Heaven in Christ's triumphant
eyes!

SUMMER SONG

If I might go with my True Love,
To some far, dream-swept land,
I'd be content to sit all day

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