Page:All quiet along the Potomac and other poems.djvu/201

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Where the shadow of the homestead

Threw protection round about ! Blessed warders, peace and safety,

Holding watch for wanderer late, Closing with their arms about me

When I shut the garden-gate !

All things fearsome lay before it,

Springing foe and lurking wile ; All things true and right within it

Clustered round my mother s smile ; But the years came creeping, creeping

Years that would not bide and wait Till, despite my bitter weeping,

Foes came through the little gate.

Haggard Care, with restless ringer,

Clutched and rattled at the latch , Time, with silent saw and hammer,

Hacked full many a ragged scratch ; Lean Distrust came through the crevice ;

Disappointment leaped across ; And ruddy War, with lurid lightning,

Marked thereon the bloody cross.

Ah, how I struggled when the stranger,

Pale and terrible and grim, Unclasped the hands that fain would hold it

As he came through twilight dim.

A little while, O pallid Stranger !

A year ! a day ! a moment wait !

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