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And when you think of love and fame And all that might have come to pass, Then don't you feel a little shame?

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And don't you think you were an ass? The bugle echoes shrill and sweet, But not of war it sings to-day. The road is rhythmic with the feet Of men-at-arms who come to pray. The roses blossom white and red On tombs where weary soldiers lie; Flags wave above the honored dead And martial music cleaves the sky. Above their wreath-strewn graves we kneel, They kept the faith and fought the fight.

Through flying lead and crimson steel They plunged for Freedom and the Right. May we, their grateful children, learn Their strength, who lie beneath this sod, Who went through fire and death to earn At last the accolade of God. Who brought a sword. Not on the lute, nor harp of many strings Shall all men praise the Master of all song.

Our life is brief, one saith, and art is long; And skilled must be the laureates of kings. Silent, O lips that utter foolish things! Rest, awkward fingers striking all notes wrong! How from your toil shall issue, white and strong, Music like that God's chosen poet sings? There is one harp that any hand can play, And from its strings what harmonies arise! There is one song that any mouth can say, -- A song that lingers when all singing dies. When on their beads our Mother's children pray Immortal music charms the grateful skies.

Homer, they tell us, was blind and could not see the beautiful faces Looking up into his own and reflecting the joy of his dream, Yet did he seem Gifted with eyes that could follow the gods to their holiest places. I have no vision of gods, not of Eros with love-arrows laden, Jupiter thundering death or of Juno his white-breasted queen, Yet have I seen All of the joy of the world in the innocent heart of a maiden.

Because the road was steep and long And through a dark and lonely land, God set upon my lips a song And put a lantern in my hand. Through miles on weary miles of night That stretch relentless in my way My lantern burns serene and white, An unexhausted cup of day. O golden lights and lights like wine, How dim your boasted splendors are. Behold this little lamp of mine; It is more starlike than a star! We who beg for bread as we daily tread Country lane and city street, Let us kneel and pray on the broad highway To the saint with the vagrant feet. Our altar light is a buttercup bright, And our shrine is a bank of sod, But still we share St.

Alexis' care, The Vagabond of God. They gave him a home in purple Rome And a princess for his bride, But he rowed away on his wedding day Down the Tiber's rushing tide. And he came to land on the Asian strand Where the heathen people dwell; As a beggar he strayed and he preached and prayed And he saved their souls from hell. Bowed with years and pain he came back again To his father's dwelling place. There was none to see who this tramp might be, For they knew not his bearded face. But his father said, "Give him drink and bread And a couch underneath the stair.

But he might not linger there.

For when night came down on the seven-hilled town, And the emperor hurried in, Saying, "Lo, I hear that a saint is near Who will cleanse us of our sin," Then they looked in vain where the saint had lain, For his soul had fled afar, From his fleshly home he had gone to roam Where the gold-paved highways are.

Alexis' care, The Vagabond of God! What distant mountains thrill and glow Beneath our Lady Folly's tread? Why has she left us, wise in woe, Shrewd, practical, uncomforted? We cannot love or dream or sing, We are too cynical to pray, There is no joy in anything Since Lady Folly went away. Many a knight and gentle maid, Whose glory shines from years gone by, Through ignorance was unafraid And as a fool knew how to die. Our minds are troubled and defiled By study in a weary school.

O for the folly of the child! The ready courage of the fool! Lord, crush our knowledge utterly And make us humble, simple men; And cleansed of wisdom, let us see Our Lady Folly's face again. The lonely farm, the crowded street, The palace and the slum, Give welcome to my silent feet As, bearing gifts, I come.

Last night a beggar crouched alone, A ragged helpless thing; I set him on a moonbeam throne -- Today he is a king. Last night a king in orb and crown Held court with splendid cheer; Today he tears his purple gown And moans and shrieks in fear. Not iron bars, nor flashing spears, Not land, nor sky, nor sea, Nor love's artillery of tears Can keep mine own from me. Serene, unchanging, ever fair, I smile with secret mirth And in a net of mine own hair I swing the captive earth. Vain is the chiming of forgotten bells That the wind sways above a ruined shrine.

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Vainer his voice in whom no longer dwells Hunger that craves immortal Bread and Wine. Light songs we breathe that perish with our breath Out of our lips that have not kissed the rod. They shall not live who have not tasted death. They only sing who are struck dumb by God. An iron hand has stilled the throats That throbbed with loud and rhythmic glee And dammed the flood of silver notes That drenched the world in melody.

The blosmy apple boughs are yearning For their wild choristers' returning, But no swift wings flash through the tree. Ye that were glad and fleet and strong, Shall Silence take you in her net? And shall Death quell that radiant song Whose echo thrills the meadow yet? Burst the frail web about you clinging And charm Death's cruel heart with singing Till with strange tears his eyes are wet. The scented morning of the year Is old and stale now ye are gone.

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No friendly songs the children hear Among the bushes on the lawn. When babies wander out a-Maying Will ye, their bards, afar be straying? Unhymned by you, what is the dawn?


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Nay, since ye loved ye cannot die. Above the stars is set your nest. Through Heaven's fields ye sing and fly And in the trees of Heaven rest. And little children in their dreaming Shall see your soft black plumage gleaming And smile, by your clear music blest. On nights like this the huddled sheep Are like white clouds upon the grass, And merry herdsmen guard their sleep And chat and watch the big stars pass. It is a pleasant thing to lie Upon the meadow on the hill With kindly fellowship near by Of sheep and men of gentle will.

I lean upon my broken crook And dream of sheep and grass and men -- O shameful eyes that cannot look On any honest thing again! On bloody feet I clambered down And fled the wages of my sin, I am the leavings of the town, And meanly serve its meanest inn. I tramp the courtyard stones in grief, While sleep takes man and beast to her. And every cloud is calling "Thief! The hand of God is sure and strong, Nor shall a man forever flee The bitter punishment of wrong.

The wrath of God is over me! With ashen bread and wine of tears Shall I be solaced in my pain.


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  6. I wear through black and endless years Upon my brow the mark of Cain. Poor vagabond, so old and mild, Will they not keep him for a night? And She, a woman great with child, So frail and pitiful and white. Good people, since the tavern door Is shut to you, come here instead. See, I have cleansed my stable floor And piled fresh hay to make a bed. Here is some milk and oaten cake.

    THE STORY-TELLER TO HIS AUDIENCE.

    Lie down and sleep and rest you fair, Nor fear, O simple folk, to take The bounty of a child of care. On nights like this the huddled sheep -- I never saw a night so fair. How huge the sky is, and how deep! And how the planets flash and glare! At dawn beside my drowsy flock What winged music I have heard! But now the clouds with singing rock As if the sky were turning bird. O blinding Light, O blinding Light! Burn through my heart with sweetest pain. O flaming Song, most loudly bright, Consume away my deadly stain!

    The stable glows against the sky, And who are these that throng the way? My three old comrades hasten by And shining angels kneel and pray. The door swings wide -- I cannot go -- I must and yet I dare not see.