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I stood alone one dying winter day
Beside an English lock. The mottled dark
Narrowed the glimmer on the still canal
That stared in silence skyward. Toiling clouds
Dragged their long trains athwart the yellow West,
And chilly puddles glanced in sickly light
All down an ash-strewn path. I leant and watched
The growing darkness. Fifty yards away
A single barge, coal-laden, patient, slow,
Hugged her own shadow, with a waning gleam
Along her dripping cover. O'er me crept
A sadness as I watched her; oft and strong
The labour-music of a tangled world
Awed into silence all the clamorous throng
Of cultured fancies, all those phantom selves
We weave from out our lives to deck a world,
Bright painted may be, but more sunless far,
Than that wet world I looked on, where the leaves
Lay black in corners, while the winter day

Died into blackness, and the old black barge
Talked quiet music of the toil of men.

What wonder if my fancy flung me far From that old English barge and dull canal Before me, to new thought of that great work In Egypt where tall vessels thread the land Disdainful of old bondage, and the sands Once smooth, are blotted by the feet of men. Then first, it seemed, the tale so often heard Rose into meaning; as the deaf, they say, Will oft-times wait until the spoken word, At first mere sound, breaks in upon their sense. I seemed half awed as by a message rung From out the childhood of my life : the film Of conscious brain-work and thick-veiling words Thinned, and I saw the present of the World Stand forth unhidden, as some far white cliff Gleams out sun-lightened from amid grey haze Blown landward from the West. Methought I passed Beyond road-netted England, far beyond The tired tossing of the wayward sea, O'er plain and tumbled mountain, till I came And watched, methought, the low and sandy shore Of Africa, where sunburnt sailors thronged Slow moving hulls, and many shadows streaked The dimpled glory of the crimson sea. Inland slow-gliding masts would seem to call Their tardy fellows loth to leave their home In kindly Europe, while far travelled hulls From the strange East lay sleeping quietly, Once more home-cradled, with their blistered sides

Withered in heat of glaring tropic suns
And the warm wash of many-coloured seas.

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I heard a story told of the great earth-
The wavelets whispered to the listening ships
And told their secret laughing merrily
To crimson tinted sand banks : far away
Along the shore I heard the nations cry
That story-only sailors brown and rude
And all unwitting of the thing they said,
Yet nations' voices. E'en the evening wind

From out the scarlet caverns of the West
Brought sweet half tellings from the watchful sun :
I knew not half the gladness that they sang,
But something of the music echoed still
The shadow of a something that was gone.

No more, no more shall weary nations track Fresh bubble-paths around the cape of storms, No more shall Europe seek the Eastern world Through burning wilds of fickle Southern seas, For lo ! the Eastern and the Western world Now hold each other by a silver thread, And down the thread as down a gossamer Flash sunny gleams that lighten all the world. Along the shores of burning India, By swirling river mouths, and 'mid the green Of dim root-cumbered forests there shall rise Long lines of crouching dwellings; trodden ways Shall gleam foot-weeded and much seed be sown In corners of God's garden.—What! be sown To bring a deadly crop, a poisoned fruit, A curse upon the world ? Yet know we naught

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