“For, all day, the wheels

Ξ October 21st, 2005 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Misc |

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      "For, all day, the wheels are droning, turning,---
      Their wind comes in our faces,---
      Till our hearts turn,---our head, with pulses burning,
      And the walls turn in their places---
      Turns the sky in the high window blank and reeling---
      Turns the long light that droppeth down the wall---
      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,' (breaking 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 wreathing
      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 inward souls against the notion
      That they live in you, os under you, O wheels!---
      Still, all day, the iron wheels go onward,
      Grinding life down from its mark;
      And the children's souls, which God is calling sunward,
      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,
      White the rushing of the iron wheels is stirred?
      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 resounding)
      Strangers speaking at the door:
      Is it likely God, with angels singing round Him,
      Hears our weeping any more?

      "Two words, indeed, of praying we remember,
      And at midnight's hour of harm,---
      '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 surely
      (For they call Him good and mild)
      Answer, smiling down the steep world very purely,
      'Come and rest with me, my child.'

      "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 find.
      Do not mock us; grief has made us unbelieving---
      We look up for God, but tears have made us blind."
      Do you hear the children weeping and disproving,
      O my brothers, what ye preach?
      For God's possible is taught by His world's loving---
      And the children doubt of each.

      And well may the children weep before you;
      They are weary ere they run;
      They have never seen the sunshine, nor the glory
      Which is brighter than the sun:
      They know the grief of man, but not the wisdom;
      They sink in man's despair, without its calm---
      Are slaves, without the liberty in Christdom,---
      Are martyrs, by the pang without the palm,---
      Are worn, as if with age, yet unretrievingly
      No dear remembrance keep,---
      Are orphans of the earthly love and heavenly:
      Let them weep! let them weep!

      They look up, with their pale and sunken faces,
      And their look is dread to see,
      For they mind you of their angels in their places,
      With eyes meant for Deity;---
      "How long," they say, "how long, O cruel nation,
      Will you stand, to move the world, on a child's heart,
      Stifle down with a mailed heel its palpitation,
      And tread onward to your throne amid the mart?
      Our blood splashes upward, O our tyrants,
      And your purple shows yo}r path;
      But the child's sob curseth deeper in the silence
      Than the strong man in his wrath!"

      - Elizabeth Barrett Browning -

 

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