Page images

The Cry of the Children But the young, young children, O my brothers,

Do you ask them why they stand
Weeping sore before the bosoms of their

In our happy Fatherland?


They look up with their pale and sunken faces,

And their looks are sad to see,
For the man's hoary anguish draws and presses

Down the cheeks of infancy;
Your old earth,” they say, “is very dreary,

Our young feet,” they say, are very weak; Few paces have we taken, yet are weary

Our grave-rest is very far to seek:
Ask the aged why they weep, and not the

For outside the earth is cold,
And we young ones stand without, in our be-

And the graves are for the old.”


* True," say the children, “it may happen

That we die before our time:
Little Alice died last year, her grave is shapen

Like a snowball, in the rime.
We looked into the pit prepared to take her:

Was no room for any work in the close clay! From the sleep wherein she lieth none will wake

her, Crying, 'Get up, little Alice! it is day.' If you listen by that grave, in sun and shower,

With your ear down, little Alice never cries:

Could we see her face, be sure we should not

know her,
For the smile has time for growing in her

eyes: And merry go her moments, lull'd and still'd in

The shroud by the kirk-chime. It is good when it happens,” say the children, “That we die before our time."


Alas, alas, the children! they are seeking

Death in life, as best to have :
They are binding up their hearts away from

breaking, With a cerement from the grave. Go out, children, from the mine and from the

city, Sing out, children, as the little thrushes do; Pluck your handfuls of the meadow-cowslips

Laugh aloud, to feel your fingers let them

But they answer, “Are your cowslips of the

Like our weeds anear the mine?
Leave us quiet in the dark of the coal-

From your pleasures fair and fine!


[ocr errors]

“For oh," say the children, we are weary,

And we cannot run or leap; If we car'd for any meadows, it were merely

To drop down in them and sleep.

The Cry of the Children
Our knees tremble sorely in the stooping,

We fall upon our faces, trying to go;
And, underneath our heavy eyelids drooping,

The reddest flower would look as pale as


For, all day, we drag our burden tiring

Through the coal-dark, underground, Or, all day, we drive the wheels of iron In the factories, round and round.

76 “ For, all day, the wheels are droning, turning ;

Their wind comes in our faces,
Till our hearts turn, our heads with pulses

burning, And the walls turn in their places: Turns the sky in the high window, blank and

Turns the long light that drops adown the

Turn the black flies that crawl along the

ceiling: All are turning, all the day, and we with all. And all day, the iron wheels are droning,

And sometimes we could pray, 'O ye wheels' (break out in a mad moaning),

‘Stop! be silent for to-day!'' Ay, be silent! Let them hear each other

breathing For a moment, mouth to mouth! Let them touch each other's hands, in a fresh

Of their tender human youth !


Let them feel that this cold metallic motion

Is not all the life God fashions or reveals : Let them prove their living souls against the

That they live in you, or under you, O

Still, all day, the iron wheels go onward,

Grinding life down from its mark;
And the children's souls, which God is calling

Spin on blindly in the dark.


Now tell the poor young children, O my

brothers, To look up to Him and pray; So the blessed One who blesseth all the others,

Will bless them another day.
They answer, “Who is God that He should

hear us,

While the rushing of the iron wheels is

stirr'd? When we sob aloud, the human creatures

near us Pass by, hearing not, or answer not a word. And we hear not (for the wheels in their

Strangers speaking at the door:
Is it likely God, with angels singing round

Hears our weeping any more?


“ Two words, indeed, of praying we remember, And at midnight's hour of harm,

The Cry of the Children 'Our Father,' looking upward in the chamber,

We say softly for a charm. We know no other words except, 'Our Father, And we think that, in some pause of angels'

song, God may pluck them with the silence sweet

to gather, And hold both within his right hand which

is strong. 'Our Father!' If He heard us, He would

(For they call Him good and mild)
Answer, smiling down the steep world very

Come and rest with me, my child.'


1 24

“But, no!” say the children, weeping faster,

“He is speechless as a stone: And they tell us, of His image is the master

Who commands us to work on. Go to!” say the children,“ up in heaven, Dark, wheel-like, turning clouds are all we

Do not mock us; grief has made us un-

We look up for God, but tears have made

us blind.”
Do you hear the children weeping and dis-

O my brothers, what ye preach?
For God's possible is taught by His world's

And the children doubt of each.


« PreviousContinue »