The Prisoner

A poem by John Charles McNeill

From pacing, pacing without hope or quest
He leaned against his window-bars to rest
And smelt the breeze that crept up from the west.

It came with sundown noises from the moors,
Of milking time and loud-voiced rural chores,
Of lumbering wagons and of closing doors.

He caught a whiff of furrowed upland sweet,
And certain scents stole up across the street
That told him fireflies winked among the wheat.

Over the dusk hill woke a new moon's light,
Shadowed the woods and made the waters white,
And watched above the quiet tents of night.

Alas, that the old Mother should not know
How ached his heart to be entreated so,
Who heard her calling and who could not go!

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