Wilfred

A poem by John Le Gay Brereton

What of these tender feet
That have never toddled yet?
What dances shall they beat,
With what red vintage wet?
In what wild way will they march or stray, by what sly paynims met?

The toil of it none may share;
By yourself must the way be won
Through fervid or frozen air
Till the overland journey’s done;
And I would not take, for your own dear sake, one thorn from your track, my son.

Go forth to your hill and dale,
Yet take in your hand from me
A staff when your footsteps fail,
A weapon if need there be;
’Twill hum in your ear when the foeman’s near, athirst for the victory.

In the desert of dusty death
It will point to the hidden spring;
Should you weary and fail for breath,
It will burgeon and branch and swing
Till you sink to sleep in its shadow deep to the sound of its murmuring.

. . . . .

You must face the general foe
A phantom pale and grim.
If you flinch at his glare, he’ll grow
And gather your strength to him;
But your power will rise if you laugh in his eyes and away in a mist he’ll swim.

To your freeborn soul be true
Fling parchment in the fire;
Men’s laws are null for you,
For a word of Love is higher,
And can you do aught, when He rules your thought, but follow your own desire?

You will dread no pinching dearth
In the home where you love to lie,
For your floor will be good brown earth
And your roof the open sky.
There’ll be room for all at your festival when the heart-red wine runs high.

. . . . .

Joy to you, joy and strife
And a golden East before,
And the sound of the sea of life
In your ears when you reach the shore,
And a hope that still with as good a will you may fight as you fought of yore.

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