The Long Lane

A poem by Josephine Preston Peabody

All through the summer night, down the long lane in flower,
The moon-white lane,
All through the summer night,--dim as a shower,
Glimmer and fade the Twain:
Over the cricket hosts, throbbing the hour by hour,
Young voices bloom and wane.

Down the long lane they go, and past one window, pale
With visions silver-blurred;
Stirring the heart that waits,--the eyes that fail
After a spring deferred.
Query, and hush, and Ah!--dim through a moon-lit veil,
The same one word.

Down the long lane, entwined with all the fragrance there;
The lane in flower somehow
With youth, and plighted hands, and star-strewn air,
And muted 'Thee' and 'Thou':--
All the wild bloom and reach of dreams that never were,
--Never to be, now.

So, in the throbbing dark, where ebbs the old refrain,
A starved heart hears.
And silver-bright, and silver-blurred again
With moonlight and with tears.
All the long night they go, down the long summer lane,
The long, long years.



Ah but, Belov├Ęd, men may do
All things to music;--march, and die;
And wear the longest vigil through,
... And say good-by.
All things to music!--Ah, but where
Peace never falls upon the air;--
These city-ways of dark and din
Where greed has shut and barred them in!
And thundering, swart against the sky,
That whirlwind,--never to go by--
Of tracks and wheels, that overhead
Beat back the senses with their roar
And menace of undying war,--
War--war--for daily bread!

All things to silence! Ah, but where
Men dwell not, but must make a lair;--
And Sorrow may not sit alone,
Nor Love hear music of its own;
And Thought that strives to breast that sea
Must struggle even for memory.
Day-long, night-long,--besieging din
To thrust all pain the deeper in!--
And drown the flutter of first-breath;
And batter at the doors of Death.
To lull their dearest:--watch their dead;
While the long thunders overhead,
Gather and break for evermore,
Eternal tides--eternal War,
War--war--Bread--bread!

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