All Quiet along the Potomac and other poems/Straw Paper

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STRAW PAPER.[1]


Through the thousand sounds of the summer noons—
Through the cricket's chirp and the robin's tune—
Through the ceaseless talk of the brook astray,
Telling leaf and stone why she came that way,

There arose a voice. It was sweet and fine,
And its tongue unknown to such ears as mine;
But the bees and the birds, and the busy things
That have nests afield, which they roof with wings,

Waited close to hear, each with bended head,
What the moaning soul of the grain-field said,
While a friendly cricket whom once I knew
Gave a free translation she vowed was true:

"Tell me, gentle Earth, who hast loved me best,
Since I left the warmth of your loving breast,
Is it all of life—this, to live and die
As a creature dumb, when I fain would cry,

"As I count the days going one by one,
Knowing working moments are almost done,
While I long to do better work than now?—
Tell me, tender one, if I may, and how?"

On the brown Earth's waiting and glowing breast
Every golden head came at last to rest;
For they heard her say, "In your fall rejoice;
Through this seeming ill thou wilt find a voice:

"Through the sickle sharp, through the pounding
 flail,
Cut and beaten down, rising crushed and pale—
Through the smirch of ink, through the tramp of lead,
Shalt thou speak to men when they deem thee dead."

It was even so. When a printed word
Had the quiet pulse of a reader stirred,
She had found her voice. Like the beaten grain,
Souls are taught to speak out of depths of pain.




  1. Used extensively in printing.