When head is sick and brain doth swim,
And heavy hangs each unstrung limb,
‘Tis sweet through smoke-puffs, wreathing slow,
To watch the firelight flash or glow.
As each soft cloud floats up on high,
Some worry takes its wings to fly;
And Fancy dances with the flame,
Who lay so labor-crammed and lame;
While the spent Will, the slack Desire,
Re-kindle at the dying fire,
And burn to meet the morrow’s sun
With all its day’s work to be done.
The tedious tangle of the Law,
Your work ne’er done without some flaw;
Those ghastly streets that drive one mad,
With children joyless, elders sad,
Young men unmanly, girls going by
Bold-voiced, with eyes unmaidenly;
Christ dead two thousand years agone,
And kingdom come still all unwon;
Your own slack self that will not rise
Whole-hearted for the great emprise,—
Well, all these dark thoughts of the day
As thin smoke’s shadow drift away.
And all those magic mists unclose,
And a girl’s face amid them grows,—
The very look she’s wont to wear,
The wild rose blossoms in her hair,
The wondrous depths of her pure eyes,
The maiden soul that ‘neath them lies,
That fears to meet, yet will not fly,
Your stranger spirit drawing nigh.
What if our times seem sliding down?
She lives, creation’s flower and crown.
What if your way seems dull and long?
Each tiny triumph over wrong,
Each effort up through sloth and fear,
And she and you are brought more near.
So rapping out these ashes light,—
“My pipe, you’ve served me well to-night.”