I found a fellow-worker when I deemed I toiled alone:
My toil was fashioning thought and sound, and his was hewing stone;
I worked in the palace of my brain, he in the common street,
And it seemed his toil was great and hard, while mine was great and sweet.
I said, O fellow-worker, yea, for I am a worker too.
The heart nigh fails me many a day, but how is it with you?
For while I toil great tears of joy will sometimes fill my eyes.
And when I form my perfect work it lives and never dies.
I carve the marble of pure thought until the thought takes form,
Until it gleams before my soul and makes the world grow warm;
Until there comes the glorious voice and words that seem divine,
And the music reaches all men's hearts and draws them into mine.
And yet for days it seems my heart shall blossom never more,
And the burden of my loneliness lies on me very sore:
Therefore, O hewer of the stones that pave base human ways.
How canst thou bear the years till death, made of such thankless days?
Then he replied: Ere sunrise, when the pale lips of the day
Sent forth an earnest thrill of breath at warmth of the first ray,
A great thought rose within me, how, while men asleep had lain.
The thousand labours of the world had grown up once again.
The sun grew on the world, and on my soul the thought grew too —
A great appalling sun, to light my soul the long day through.
I felt the world's whole burden for a moment, then began
With man's gigantic strength to do the labour of one man.
I went forth hastily, and lo! I met a hundred men.
The worker with the chisel and the worker with the pen, —
The restless toilers after good, who sow and never reap.
And one who maketh music for their souls that may not sleep.
Each passed me with a dauntless look, and my undaunted eyes
Were almost softened as they passed with tears that strove to rise
At sight of all those labours, and because that every one,
Ay, the greatest, would be greater if my little were undone.
They passed me, having faith in me, and in our several ways.
Together we began to-day as on the other days:
I felt their mighty hands at work, and, as the day wore through.
Perhaps they felt that even I was helping somewhat too:
Perhaps they felt, as with those hands they lifted mightily
The burden once more laid upon the world so heavily.
That while they nobly held it as each man can do and bear.
It did not wholly fall my side as though no man were there.
And so we toil together many a day from morn till night,
I in the lower depths of life, they on the lovely height;
For though the common stones are mine, and they have lofty cares,
Their work begins where this leaves off, and mine is part of theirs.
And 'tis not wholly mine or theirs I think of through the day,
But the great eternal thing we make together, I and they;
Far in the sunset I behold a city that man owns,
Made fair with all their nobler toil, built of my common stones.
Then noonward, as the task grows light with all the labour done.
The single thought of all the day becomes a joyous one;
For, rising in my heart at last where it has lain so long,
It thrills up seeking for a voice, and grows almost a song.
But when the evening comes, indeed, the words have taken wing.
The thought sings in me still, but I am all too tired to sing;
Therefore, O you my friend, who serve the world with minstrelsy,
Among our fellow-workers' songs make that one song for me.