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- The Pilgrims of Hope - 1/8 -


THE PILGRIMS OF HOPE

by William Morris

Contents:

The Message of the March Wind The Bridge and the Street Sending to the War Mother and Son New Birth The New Proletarian In Prison--and at Home The Half of Life Gone A New Friend Ready to Depart A Glimpse of the Coming Day Meeting The War-Machine The Story's Ending

THE MESSAGE OF THE MARCH WIND

Fair now is the springtide, now earth lies beholding With the eyes of a lover the face of the sun; Long lasteth the daylight, and hope is enfolding The green-growing acres with increase begun.

Now sweet, sweet it is through the land to be straying Mid the birds and the blossoms and the beasts of the field; Love mingles with love, and no evil is weighing On thy heart or mine, where all sorrow is healed.

From township to township, o'er down and by tillage Far, far have we wandered and long was the day, But now cometh eve at the end of the village, Where over the grey wall the church riseth grey.

There is wind in the twilight; in the white road before us The straw from the ox-yard is blowing about; The moon's rim is rising, a star glitters o'er us, And the vane on the spire-top is swinging in doubt.

Down there dips the highway, toward the bridge crossing over The brook that runs on to the Thames and the sea. Draw closer, my sweet, we are lover and lover; This eve art thou given to gladness and me.

Shall we be glad always? Come closer and hearken: Three fields further on, as they told me down there, When the young moon has set, if the March sky should darken, We might see from the hill-top the great city's glare.

Hark, the wind in the elm-boughs! From London it bloweth, And telling of gold, and of hope and unrest; Of power that helps not; of wisdom that knoweth, But teacheth not aught of the worst and the best.

Of the rich men it telleth, and strange is the story How they have, and they hanker, and grip far and wide; And they live and they die, and the earth and its glory Has been but a burden they scarce might abide.

Hark! the March wind again of a people is telling; Of the life that they live there, so haggard and grim, That if we and our love amidst them had been dwelling My fondness had faltered, thy beauty grown dim.

This land we have loved in our love and our leisure For them hangs in heaven, high out of their reach; The wide hills o'er the sea-plain for them have no pleasure, The grey homes of their fathers no story to teach.

The singers have sung and the builders have builded, The painters have fashioned their tales of delight; For what and for whom hath the world's book been gilded, When all is for these but the blackness of night?

How long and for what is their patience abiding? How oft and how oft shall their story be told, While the hope that none seeketh in darkness is hiding And in grief and in sorrow the world groweth old?

Come back to the inn, love, and the lights and the fire, And the fiddler's old tune and the shuffling of feet; For there in a while shall be rest and desire, And there shall the morrow's uprising be sweet.

Yet, love, as we wend the wind bloweth behind us And beareth the last tale it telleth to-night, How here in the spring-tide the message shall find us; For the hope that none seeketh is coming to light.

Like the seed of midwinter, unheeded, unperished, Like the autumn-sown wheat 'neath the snow lying green, Like the love that o'ertook us, unawares and uncherished, Like the babe 'neath thy girdle that groweth unseen,

So the hope of the people now buddeth and groweth - Rest fadeth before it, and blindness and fear; It biddeth us learn all the wisdom it knoweth; It hath found us and held us, and biddeth us hear:

For it beareth the message: "Rise up on the morrow And go on your ways toward the doubt and the strife; Join hope to our hope and blend sorrow with sorrow, And seek for men's love in the short days of life."

But lo, the old inn, and the lights and the fire, And the fiddler's old tune and the shuffling of feet; Soon for us shall be quiet and rest and desire, And to-morrow's uprising to deeds shall be sweet.

THE BRIDGE AND THE STREET

In the midst of the bridge there we stopped and we wondered In London at last, and the moon going down, All sullied and red where the mast-wood was sundered By the void of the night-mist, the breath of the town.

On each side lay the City, and Thames ran between it Dark, struggling, unheard 'neath the wheels and the feet. A strange dream it was that we ever had seen it, And strange was the hope we had wandered to meet.

Was all nought but confusion? What man and what master Had each of these people that hastened along? Like a flood flowed the faces, and faster and faster Went the drift of the feet of the hurrying throng.

Till all these seemed but one thing, and we twain another, A thing frail and feeble and young and unknown; What sign mid all these to tell foeman from brother? What sign of the hope in our hearts that had grown?

We went to our lodging afar from the river, And slept and forgot--and remembered in dreams; And friends that I knew not I strove to deliver From a crowd that swept o'er us in measureless streams,

Wending whither I knew not: till meseemed I was waking To the first night in London, and lay by my love, And she worn and changed, and my very heart aching With a terror of soul that forbade me to move.

Till I woke, in good sooth, and she lay there beside me, Fresh, lovely in sleep; but awhile yet I lay, For the fear of the dream-tide yet seemed to abide me In the cold and sad time ere the dawn of the day.

Then I went to the window, and saw down below me The market-wains wending adown the dim street, And the scent of the hay and the herbs seemed to know me, And seek out my heart the dawn's sorrow to meet.

They passed, and day grew, and with pitiless faces The dull houses stared on the prey they had trapped; 'Twas as though they had slain all the fair morning places Where in love and in leisure our joyance had happed.

My heart sank; I murmured, "What's this we are doing In this grim net of London, this prison built stark With the greed of the ages, our young lives pursuing A phantom that leads but to death in the dark?"

Day grew, and no longer was dusk with it striving, And now here and there a few people went by. As an image of what was once eager and living Seemed the hope that had led us to live or to die.

Yet nought else seemed happy; the past and its pleasure Was light, and unworthy, had been and was gone; If hope had deceived us, if hid were its treasure, Nought now would be left us of all life had won.

O love, stand beside me; the sun is uprisen On the first day of London; and shame hath been here. For I saw our new life like the bars of a prison, And hope grew a-cold, and I parleyed with fear.

Ah! I sadden thy face, and thy grey eyes are chiding! Yea, but life is no longer as stories of yore; From us from henceforth no fair words shall be hiding The nights of the wretched, the days of the poor.

Time was we have grieved, we have feared, we have faltered, For ourselves, for each other, while yet we were twain;


The Pilgrims of Hope - 1/8

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