For want of bread to eat and clothes to wear —
Because work failed and streets were deep in snow,
NUMB, half asleep, and dazed with whirl of wheels,
And gasp of steam, and measured clank of chains,
I heard a blithe voice break a sudden pause,
Ringing familiarly through the lamp-lit night,
When the investing darkness growls,
And deep reverberates to deep;
When keyhole whines and chimney howls,
And all the roofs and windows weep;
Earth, outward tuning on her path in space
This pensive southern face,
Swathing its smile and shine
In that soft veil that day and darkness twine,
Good-bye! -- 'tis like a churchyard bell -- good-bye!
Poor weeping eyes! Poor head, bowed down with woe!
Kiss me again, dear love, before you go.
Ah, me, how fast the precious moments fly!
Before me now a little picture lies—
A little shadow of a childish face,
Childishly sweet, yet with the dawning grace
Of thought and wisdom on her lips and eyes.
Like a white snowdrop in the spring
From child to girl I grew,
And is the great cause lost beyond recall?
Have all the hopes of ages come to naught?
Is life no more with noble meaning fraught?
Is life but death, and love its funeral pall?
To you, who look below,
Where little candles glow --
Who listen in a narrow street,
Confused with noise of passing feet --
Alone! Alone! No beacon, far or near!
No chart, no compass, and no anchor stay!
Like melting fog the mirage melts away
In all-surrounding darkness, void and clear.