All Quiet along the Potomac and other poems/A Dreamer's Tale


IN the arm-chair in the corner,
Half content and wholly still,
Sat I, weaving idle fancies,
As a rhyming dreamer will
Setting them to sombre rhythm
As the housewife, calm and sweet,
Trod the round of daily duties
With her brave, unfalt'ring feet.

Timidly a basement-beggar
Knocked and asked for warmth and bread
Then along the stair and passage
Went the patient, steady tread.
Then I guessed the wistful glances
Bent upon the little lad;
Well I knew the fresh remembrance
On the face so fair and sad.

Out of this there grew a vision
Opposite my easy-chair,
Made by idle brain and sunshine,
Crossed with threads of daily care.

Thus I saw the gate of Glory
Open wide, and just within
Saw my hostess, clad in garments
Such as earth could never spin,

Full of wonder as an angel
Held a starry circlet out,
Pointing to the jewels shining
All the golden crown about:
" Not so many stars, O angel!
Not so bright my risen crest!
I could do for Him so little
When I sought to do my best."

Then the silver speech of heaven
In my dream I plainly heard,
While the angel round the circle
Told each star with loving word:
"This, O true and faithful servant,
Is the token of thy prayer,
Crowning alms you gave the soldier,
Who you thought would never care.

"This, the word of pity spoken
To the outcast at your door;
This, thy whisper to the tempted,
Bridging times of weakness o'er;
This, the good word fitly spoken
For thine erring Christian friend;
This, thy patience under trial;
This, thy faith firm to the end."

And then—I woke. The bar of sunshine
Down the wall had faded quite,
And the vision with it ended
As the shadows chased the light;
Yet I seem to hear the story,
Seem the starry crown to see,
While the footsteps of the housewife
Beat their rhythm patiently.