An Anthology of Modern Bohemian Poetry/Woe of Man
WOE OF MAN
We, 'neath the spell of a hostile power are by faintness assailed,
Its evil relentless face in the eyes of the sun is aglow;
The instrument of thy labour was cast from our hands as they quailed,
On a boulder amid the quarries we sat us down in our woe.
We wiped the sweat from our brows, with Death we were speaking.Amid
A motionless heaven aglow, 'mid ironical glinting of ore,
And e'en as a child lays its head in its mother's lap, so we hid
Our weary thoughts in creation's grief that endures evermore.
And then in our own magic power, the mystery of our birth,
In the guerdon of our renown that is hidden, our sorrows we found;
Princes, who in a conquering ruler's gold bearing earth,
Were lettered fast and by guards invisible compassed around.
When they think of their cities that over the lakes es have grown,
Of the stars in the mystical light of dusk of their native sky,
And in their captivity’s calm, of bells with a thousand-fold tone,
And of trusty multitudes, who at a crowning exultingly cry.
"The Hands" (1901).