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The Swallows sang
ALIEN to us are
Your fields, and your cotes, and your glebes;
Secret our nests are
Although they be built in your eaves;
Un-eaten by us are
The grains that grow in your fields.
The Weathercock on the barn answered
Not alien to ye are
The powers of un-earthbound beings:
Their curse ye would bring
On our cotes, and our glebes, and our fields,
If aught should befall
The brood that is bred in the eaves.
The Swallows answered
If aught should befall
Our brood that's not travelled the seas,
Your temples would fall,
And blood ye would milk from your beeves:
Against them the curse we would bring
Of un-earthbound beings!
I saw the wind to-day:
I saw it in the pane
Of glass upon the wall:
A moving thing 'twas like
No bird with widening wing,
No mouse that runs along
The meal bag under the beam.
I think it like a horse,
All black, with frightening mane.
That springs out of the earth,
And tramples on his way.
I saw it in the glass,
The shaking of a mane:
A horse that no one rides!
Meet for a town where pennies have few pairs
In children's pockets, this toyshop and its wares:
Jew's-harps and masks and kites
And paper lanterns with their farthing lights,
All in a dim lit window to be seen:
The walls that have the patches of the damp,
The counter where there burns the murky lamp,
And then, the counter and the shelf between,
Meagre, grey-polled, lame.
And here she's been since times are legendary,
For Miler Dowdall whom we used to see
Upon the hoarding with deft hands held up
To win the champion's belt or silver cup-
Would come in here to buy a ball or top-
That Miler Dowdall, the great pugilist
Who had the world once beneath his fist!
Now Miler's is a name that's blown by!
How's custom? Bad enough! She had not sold
Kites for ten boys along the street to hold-
She sold them by the gross in times agone:
Wasn't it poor, the town
Would count their mort of marbles, saving them
In crock or jar till round the season came,
And buy no more to handsel in first game?
The liveliest were stiffened like herself,
The brightest were grown drab upon her shelf!
But she's not tragical no, not a whit :
She laughs as she talks to you that is it
As paper lantern's farthing candle light
Her eyes are bright,
Her lame, spare frame upborne
A paper kite held by a string that's worn;
And like a jew's-harp when you strike its tongue
That way her voice goes on
Recalling long ago. And she will hop
The inches of her crib, this narrow shop,
When you step in to be her customer:
A bird of little worth, a sparrow, say,
Whose crib's in such neglected passageway
That one's left wondering who brings crumbs to her.
How strange to think that she is still inside
After so many turns of the tide
Since this lit window was a dragon's eye
To turn us all to wonder coming nigh
Since this dim window was a dragon's eye!
Down a street that once I lived in
You used to pass, a honey-seller,
And the town in which that street was
Was the shabbiest of all places;
You were different from the others
Who went by to barter meanly:
Different from the man with colored
Windmills for the children's pennies;
Different from the drab purveyor
With her paper screens to fill up
Chill and empty fireplaces.
You went by, a man upstanding,
On your head a wide dish, holding
Dark and golden lumps of honey;
You went slowly, like an old horse
That's not driven any longer,
But that likes to take an amble.
No one ever bought your honey,
No one ever paid a penny
For a single comb of sweetness;
Every house was grim unto you
With foregone desire of eating
Bread whose taste had sweet of honey.
Yet you went, a man contented
's though you had a king to call on
Who would take you to his parlour,
And buy all your stock of honey.
On you went, and in a sounding
Voice, just like the bell of evening,
Told us of the goods you carried,
Told us of the dark and golden
Treasure dripping on your wide dish.
You went by, and no one named you!
The crows still fly to that wood, and out of the wood she comes,
Carrying her load of sticks, a little less now than before,
Her strength being less; she bends as the hoar rush bends in the wind;
She will sit by the fire, in the smoke, her thoughts on root and the living branch no more.
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