In Flanders Fields and Other Poems/The Shadow of the Cross
The Shadow of the Cross
AT the drowsy dusk when the shadows creep
From the golden west, where the sunbeams sleep,
An angel mused: "Is there good or ill
In the mad world's heart, since on Calvary's hill
'Round the cross a mid-day twilight fell
That darkened earth and o'ershadowed hell?"
Through the streets of a city the angel sped;
Like an open scroll men's hearts he read.
In a monarch's ear his courtiers lied
And humble faces hid hearts of pride.
Men's hate waxed hot, and their hearts grew cold,
As they haggled and fought for the lust of gold.
Despairing, he cried, "After all these years
Is there naught but hatred and strife and tears?"
He found two waifs in an attic bare;
—A single crust was their meagre fare—
One strove to quiet the other's cries,
And the love-light dawned in her famished eyes
As she kissed the child with a motherly air:
"I don't need mine, you can have my share."
Then the angel knew that the earthly cross
And the sorrow and shame were not wholly loss.
At dawn, when hushed was earth's busy hum
And men looked not for their Christ to come,
From the attic poor to the palace grand,
The King and the beggar went hand in hand.