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A Prelude

Produced by Al Haines.

A PRELUDE

Francis Sherman

_Privately Printed_ _at Christmas_ _1897_

A Prelude

Watching the tremulous flicker of the green Against the open quiet of the sky, I hear my ancient way-fellows convene

In the great wood behind me. Where I lie They may not see me; for the grasses grow As though no foot save June's had wandered by;

Yet I, who am well-hidden, surely know, As I have waited them, they yearn for me To lead them whither they are fain to go.

Weary as I, are they, O Time, of thee! Yea, we, who once were glad only of Spring, Gather about thy wall and would be free!

With wounded feet we cease from wandering, And with vain hands beat idly at thy gate; And thou,--thou hast no thought of opening, And from thy peace are we still separate.

Yet, comrades, though ye come together there, And search across the shadows for my face, Until the pines murmur of your despair,

I think I shall not tell my hiding-place, For ye know not the path ye would pursue, And it is late our footsteps to retrace.

Too weak am I, and now not one of you-- So weary are ye of each ancient way-- Retaineth strength enough to seek a new;

And ye are blind--knowing not night from day; Crying at noontime, "Let us see the sun!" And with the even, "O for rest, we pray!"

O Blind and fearful! Shall I, who have won At last this little portion of content, Yield all to be with you again undone?

Because ye languish in your prisonment Must I now hearken to your bitter cry? Must I forego, as ye long since forewent,

My vision of the far-off open sky? Nay! Earth hath much ungiven she yet may give; And though to-day your laboring souls would die, From earth my soul gaineth the strength to live.

O covering grasses! O Unchanging trees! Is it not good to feel the odorous wind Come down upon you with such harmonies

Only the giant hills can ever find? O little leaves, are ye not glad to be? Is not the sunlight fair, the shadow kind,

That falls at noon-time over you and me? O gleam of birches lost among the firs, Let your high treble chime in silverly

Across the half-imagined wind that stirs A muffled organ-music from the pines! Earth knows to-day that not one note of hers

Is minor. For, behold, the loud sun shines Till the young maples are no longer gray, And stronger grow their faint, uncertain lines

Each violet takes a deeper blue to-day, And purpler swell the cones hung overhead, Until the sound of their far feet who

About the wood, fades from me; and, instead, I hear a robin singing--not as one That calls unto his mate, uncomforted-- But as one sings a welcome to the sun.

Not among men, or near men-fashioned things, In the old years found I this present ease, Though I have known the fellowship of kings


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