תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub
[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small]

What didst thou see along the track?

“A scurry of leaves wind-tossed, White like faces thrust out of the black,

Thinned and edged with the frost.
They whirled about till they all went out

Into the night and were lost."
What was that sound I thought I heard

When I was lain in bed?
"Maybe the sullen rock that stirred

Beneath my horse's tread.
Three times, I say, that rock gave way

And plunged among the dead."
The first time that the rock gave way,

What was it kept thee back?
“’T was thy soft hand upon the rein

That held me to the track.
Thy face shone white along the night

And laughed out of the black.”
Nay, then, it was no hand of mine,

For I was safe in bed!
“I swear by God that hand was thine

By which my steed was led,
Else were I lost and a thin ghost

That smokes among the dead!
“With desolate sighs that way was full,

And I rode there alone.
Sometimes there was a grinning skull

That I mistook for stone,
And every rock my steed's hoofs struck

Was thin like empty bone.”
The next time that the rock gave way,

What kept thee from the rim ?
"My struggling steedstrove hard for speed;

He leaped from brim to brim.
To my cold breast my child clung fast:

I could not fall with him!”
Nay, then, it was no child of thine,

For he is not yet born!
"And had it not been child of mine,

That way had been forlorn.
I held him tight through the dark night,

And even until the morn.
“The fear that bounded close behind

Was like a lean dog held at bay.
I felt his hot breath on the wind,

And I dared not to stay.
Like a bloodhound that seeks the wound,

He followed all the way."

[graphic][merged small]

The third time that the rock gave way,

What was it helped thee then?
"That path that broke before, behind,

Cried out like living men,
And far below, like sluggish snow,

Slow things moved through the fen. “The woman running at my side,

Who had a bleeding breast, Even as a star swings off the tide,

She cleared that chasm deep and wide, Nor stopped one whit to rest.

We whirled behind; like the storm-wind
We followed in her quest.
"I felt her tears blown through my heart,

Cold as a blast of winter rain.
The blood she shed had left me dead,

Had I not eased her pain.
I pressed my kisses on her mouth,

And we sped on again!”
That woman running at thy side,

Why should she bleed for thee?
I had rather that thou last night had died,

Than not be saved by me.
My breast is whole as mine own soul,

And is as fair to see!
“What then? dost thou forget that road

All blackened with the storm; Hast thou no memory for the goad

That pierced thy hurrying form? Thyself for cold cried in the wold;

Hast thou so soon grown warm?”
That, in God's truth, my soul went out

To help thee in that need,
I cannot then keep more in doubt,

Since thou hast seen me bleed;
But that in the wold I cried for cold

I have forgot indeed!
If, in God's truth, my spirit went

To where thy course was set,
I have forgotten I was forspent,

My wounds I do forget;
But there shall be one memory-

Thy kiss is on me yet!
Last night my lord was not at home-

“Nay; I was out on moor and fell.” And thy black horse is frothed with foam,

As thou didst drive him well"He galloped all night, till dawn grew white,

On the road 'twixt heaven and hell.”

307

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

THE BALLAD OF CALNAN'S CHRISTMAS.

BY HELEN GRAY CONE.

THEN you hear the fire-gongs beat fierce along the startled street,

See the great-limbed horses bound, and the gleaming engine sway,
And the driver in his place, with his fixed, heroic face,

Say a prayer for Calnan's sake-he that died on Christmas day!

Cling! Cling! Each to his station!
Clang! Clang! Quick to clear the way!

(Christ keep the soldiers of salvation,
Fighting nameless battles in the war of every day!

In the morning, blue and mild, of the Mother and the Child,

While the blessed bells were calling, thrilled the summons through the wire; In the morning, blue and mild, for a woman and a child

Died a man of gentle will, plunging on to fight the fire.

Ring, swing, bells in the steeple!
Ring the Child and ring the Star, as sweetly as ye may!

Ring, swing, bells, to tell the people
God's good will to earthly men, the men of every day!

“Thirty-four” swung oat agleam, with her mighty, bounding team;

Horses' honor pricked them on, and they leaped as at a goad;
Jimmy Calnan in his place, with his clean-cut Irish face,

Iron hands upon the reins, eyes a-strain upon the road.

Clang! Clang! Quick to clear the way!
(Sweetly rang, above the clang, the bells of Christmas day.)

Tearing, plunging through the din, scarce a man can hold them in;

None on earth could pull them short: Mary Mother, guard from harm Yonder woman straight ahead, stony-still with sudden dread,

And the little woman-child, with her waxen child in arm!

Oh, God's calls, how swift they are! Oh, the Cross that hides the Star!

Oh, the fire-gong beating fierce through the bells of Christmas day!
Just a second there to choose, and a life to keep or lose-

To the curb he swung the horses, and he flung his life away!

Ring, swing, bells in the steeple!
Ring the Star and ring the Cross, for Star and Cross are one!

Ring, swing, bells, to tell the people
God is pleased with manly men, and deeds that they have done!

VOL. LVII.-40.

309

« הקודםהמשך »