Upon a lonely road at shut of day
Bede, the blind preacher, leaning on a lad
To stay his steps, barefoot (what clothes he had
Fluttering loose in the breeze) took his rough way.
More grisly grew the inhuman wild, and blank :
Nothing but here a pine-trunk, ages old,
There a gray boulder jutting from the mould,
Bearded with shaggy moss and lichens dank.
The lad was tired. Perhaps a bush in reach
Showed tempting berries ; or, for the mere jest,
To fool the blind–“I’ll go,” says he, “to rest,
And now’s your time if you’ve a mind to preach.
“Shepherds have seen us from the high hillside ;
Women are here expecting, children hem
The path, gray elders–speak of God to them,
And of His Son for our sins crucified.
A sudden glamour lit the age worn face.
As springs rock-bound upbursting crack their shell,
So from his wan lips broke the living well
Of inspiration, like a torrent race.
He spoke as faith can speak. The blind man seemed
To read the Apocalypse behind the skies :
Heavenward his frail hand beckoned prophet-wise ;
Tears in his disillumined sockets gleamed.
. . . . . . . . .
Look! now the pale moon drops behind the hill ;
The red gold in the East begins to kindle ;
Night vapours deep in valley bottoms dwindle….
But when the Saint in rapture, preaching still,
Felt his arm nudged, and heard the laughing boy’s
“Enough! There’s no one left–let’s on again,”
And ceased, bowing his head in silence,–then
All round with vast and congregated noise
The stones of the wilderness returned “Amen.”
«Transcribed from Things New and Old, MCMXVIII»