The Stranger Child

The Stranger Child  (1902) 
by Josephine Dodge Daskam

From Scribner's Magazine, Aug 1902

By Josephine Dodge Daskam

Now the night is dark,
Now the house is still;
Comes a little stranger child
Toiling up the hill.

Listens at the door,
Peers within the pane.
Reaches for the broken latch
Rusted with the rain.

Murmurs in the dark.
Sobs beneath his breath,
Whispers to the empty rooms,
Quiet, now, for death.

Wanders through the lane
Where the rosebush grew.
Tries to reach the cobwebbed sill
Drenched and dark with dew.

Calls—and calls in vain!
For the man, alone,
Dies before a dying fire,
Hears no human tone.

Only his soul's voice
Calls the dull roll through;
Good so often long to wait,
Ill so quick to do.

Only his soul's eyes,
Shamed and tired of all,
Watch the red life ebb and flow,
Watch the last sands fall.

And the little child
Clinging to the sill,
Weeps and stretches tiny hands,
Weak for good or ill.

Slow the dying coal
Drops from out the fire;
Slowly sinks the house of clay,
Empty of desire.

Through the creaking blind
Slips the spirit now.
Shudders at the stranger child,
"Thou? my lost youth, thou?"

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1926.

The author died in 1961, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 50 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.