Pieces People Ask For/Filling His Place
FILLING HIS PLACE.
Young Rip Van Winkle took into his head
To go on a cruise round the world, he said;
And in three years' time he would come once more,
And all would go on as it had before.
What a blank he left, alack and alack!
But the years went round till they brought him back.
And one lazy day in the last of June
Stood a sunburnt sailor, humming a tune,
And watching them play on the cricket-ground.
He was champion once of the country round;
But that brawny lad with the laughing face,
It was plain to see, was filling his place;
And with half a sigh he turned him away,
Saying, "It matters not, it is naught but play."
And he took the road to the old grist-mill,
Where his place, he knew, they could never fill;
For he'd miss him sore, the miller declared,
And his own right hand could be better spared.
The miller had found, on the day he sailed,
A good honest lad, who had never failed.
"Well, all men can work, but all cannot sing.
I'll sit in the choir; and they'll know the ring
"Of my voice again, for the girls did say
'Twould break up the choir when I went away."
Has it lost the ring that it had of old?
For they look askance, and with glances cold;
And the girls declare, with a pretty pout,
That the stranger there, he has put them out.
What matters it, though, when trifles befall?
One sweet hope is left, that is better than all:
His neighbors and friends may all have forgot,
But sweet Mary Ann, he is sure, has not.
She gave him a rose when he sailed away:
He'll show her that rose when he goes to-day.
How glad she will be, after waiting so long,
To see him again so hearty and strong!
Alas for the sailor! alas for the rose!
They've gone round the world, and this is the close:
"You have stayed too long, you have stayed too long,
Had you come before,"—this was all her song,—
"You had found my heart but an empty nest,
And ready to welcome its truant guest.
Go, bring the dead rose to life if you can,
But your place is filled by a better man."
And sadder and wiser he went his way,
But he kept that rose to his dying day.
Maria L. Eve.