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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; soft 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.

I heard a story told of the great earthThe 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

Of good or evil, or we know but part
Of each, where both are infinite and stretch
Beyond the gates of fancy in a mesh
Which yet may be perfection: let us toil
And till the ground and trust what seed be sown.
A mighty deed is this that has been done,

This cutting of the world for all the world;
For many men have lived, and laughed, and died,
And daisies starred the grass for baby hands
For long smooth-sliding years: the countless past
Like sea-born chalk so heavy with the weight
Of weightless somethings needs must press the Earth,
Before the spade could shift the trickling sand
And let the seas kiss and the world be joined.

'Tis like the west knows little what she gives,
Most like her sister knows not what she takes;
For, though she recks of little else than gold,

To Europe shall there come far other good
Than that she dreams of. I have watched a wave
In headlong glee give all its strength away
Against a cliff, but back in eager haste
There runs a new born wavelet to the sea,
And climbs the coming billows vanishing
In distance, whence it came, to bear the tale
Of that new birth: so that which Europe gives
Shall Europe take, though changed the same: but she,

Her sister, so long exiled from her love,

Shall feel a mystic change the while she hears
Low messages from God, and all her heart

In spite of wrinkling frost shall soon be warmed
In rosy light of love, which sparkles out


many namèd rays till night be shamed Far and still farther from the growing day. Now more than ever surely it is true,

In part at least, that here in England now
The countless fate of all that Eastern world
Is being woven by the daily lives

Of English men and women; here at home
'Mid buttercups, and hedges, and the sound
Of ceaseless voices in an echoing room.
Ah! if we could but mind what living means
How naught doth ever end; for we can see
In this our myriad present phantasies
Of joy, and pain, and beauty, such as loom
With dim foreboding of a dawning life
In dreamy depths of awsome childish eyes.
Be still and wonder; lo! a new found world
Doth lift itself towards us, twice as fair

As that which rose from out the mystic West
To those few wind-worn sailors, while they stared
Through strange glad tears half trusting that they saw.
Yes, a new world and wider far than theirs,

A world of men; for what the East shall do
Shall be but words to tell what she hath felt;
Though bars of shadow push across her road,
It yet leads onward; blackest shadow tells
Of brightest sunlight.

Thus my weakling thought Still sought to shape dim feeling while that mist Of fancy music lingered, but it died Faint and yet fainter, till I seemed to wait And listen still for that which never came. Egyptian shores and crimson cradled ships

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