About baszka n
Thou Light from out the past. Spirit who dost upgather
Dead strivings, old heart bleedings, agonies
Strewn o'er with dust of the grave.
Dumb wrestlings and despair, Gethsemanes
Locked secret in forgotten hearts that drave
Their bitter bargain 'gainst sweet lustful ease—
Conscience, whose well-trimmed lamp hath oil of these
Ancestral triumphs for burning, thou canst save.
There where the shade of Time's loud highway breaks
The sunny meads of childhood, thou dost shed
Thy waiting lamp for souls on pilgrimage.
And these to South, and these to North are led :—
One* mid the white and merciless waste of snows
Huddled with starving comrades—that lone tent,
Perched stiff 'mid soft destruction their one armament—
Lifts up his frost-scarred face and sees.
Through the death dance of whirling atomies.
Thy pale lamp gUmmer coldly—and he goes:
Creeps from the only comfort that he knows
Into oblivion, so upon the morn
His comrades, staggering on their way forlorn,
Drag not the useless load of one nigh dead.
The drift piles silerltly, and leaves no mark
Of what vast kingliness in chilly shroud 'tis folding,
But he on us as heritage
The burden of his honour throws,
And with more fervent spark
Thy quenchless lamp doth bum for our beholding.
One** when mists close at sea, and all around
The wash of waters lifts with mournful sound.
Rent by the roar of death's red enginry,
Stands undismayed where corpse on corpse doth heap
The blood-slimed deck; for through the fogs that rise
Before his steadfast djdng eyes.
Thy lantern gleams imperiously.
Pointing the post that he must keep.
And gilds his young devotion deathlessly.
For one*** through cannon's smoke thy light will break,
And 'mong gashed forms of shell-torn dead
Faithful he kneels, though round his 'fenceless head
Shrieks menace ; yea, a bastion he will make
Of his own body, whilst the long hours take
Their toll of thirst and anguish, till the day sinks red
With slaughter round him, so he succoureth
The captain whom he follows unto death.
And there is he hath seen thee pass afar
Over the faint horizon, and lays down
His tools, and hastens instant from the town.
Lured by the flickering beauty of a star
To scorn the gibers in the busy street;
Though they with mocking fingers point the road,
Bordered by midnight, loneliness, despair,
Unherbaged, fruitless, barren everywhere.
Trod by sad ghosts who reaped not what they sowed.
Yet on his dizzy brain thy glories beat.
So walks he by the ray thou once hast showed
And sets a path for following feet.
But woe to him who, when the storm bursts shrill
On his late flowery way, and the fierce night
Buffets him, like a fury, hails the light
Of some red-curtained hostelry—
Whence song and laugh float merrily
Through glowing wide-flung doors that spill
Their welcome on the murky atmosphere—
Hails it and cries, ' This is thy lamp ; lo, here
I shelter warm till dawns some kindlier day !'
Ah woe, when dim and dim thy light doth sway
Down the dark rain-swept road, and fades from sight!
Then must thy mournful flame
Gutter for us in smoky shame;
Nor fire, nor song, nor laugh shall bring him rest
Whose stifled soul lies shuddering in his breast.