All day long he kept the sheep:--
Far and early, from the crowd,
On the hills from steep to steep,
Where the silence cried aloud;
And the shadow of the cloud
Wrapt him in a noonday sleep.
Where he dipped the water's cool,
Filling boyish hands from thence,
Something breathed across the pool
Stir of sweet enlightenments;
And he drank, with thirsty sense,
Till his heart was brimmed and full.
Still, the hovering Voice unshed,
And the Vision unbeheld,
And the mute sky overhead,
And his longing, still withheld!
--Even when the two tears welled,
Salt, upon that lonely bread.
Vaguely blessèd in the leaves,
Dim-companioned in the sun,
Eager mornings, wistful eves,
Very hunger drew him on;
And To-morrow ever shone
With the glow the sunset weaves.
Even so, to that young heart,
Words and hands, and Men were dear;
And the stir of lane and mart
After daylong vigil here.
Sunset called, and he drew near,
Still to find his path apart.
When the Bell, with gentle tongue,
Called the herd-bells home again,
Through the purple shades he swung,
Down the mountain, through the glen;
Towards the sound of fellow-men,--
Even from the light that clung.
Dimly too, as cloud on cloud,
Came that silent flock of his:
Thronging whiteness, in a crowd,
After homing twos and threes;
With the thronging memories
Of all white things dreamed and vowed.
Through the fragrances, alone,
By the sudden-silent brook,
From the open world unknown,
To the close of speech and book;
There to find the foreign look
In the faces of his own.
Sharing was beyond his skill;
Shyly yet, he made essay:
Sought to dip, and share, and fill
Heart's-desire, from day to day.
But their eyes, some foreign way,
Looked at him; and he was still.
Last, he reached his arms to sleep,
Where the Vision waited, dim,
Still beyond some deep-on-deep.
And the darkness folded him,
Eager heart and weary limb.--
All day long, he kept the sheep.