For close on four-and-thirty years
At books and stories Barder wrote.
With patient zeal and endless cares,
His offerings of verse he brought,
And laid them at the royal feet
Of Demos. Demos thought them neat
On rare occasions. Still to treat
Intricately with purring herds
Of vital words
He bode the waking of the birds.
He wrote a monumental stack
Of stories as the years stole by;
His labors as a weekly hack
Meant paragraphs to blot the sky;
And tripping rhymelets, grave and gay,
Dripped from his pen, a yard a day.
Whatever other men might say
To him they were supremely fine.
"This work of mine,"
Said he, "has e'er the touch divine!"
When looking back he saw a sweep
Of printed matter stretching wide
To far horizon, six feet deep,
And felt a great creator's pride.
But, in those moments when the hand
Pen-weary fell, his cottage land
He tilled for pastime. From the sand
Coaxed vegetables scant, and drew
A vine or two,
Of common fruits a stunted few.
He summed his art accomplishment:
"My works," he said, "are all my pride";
Then felt his power and spirit spent,
And leaned upon his desk and died.
He up for judgment swiftly spun,
The angel viewed what he had done,
And said: "Go give this little one
Some small reward for two fig-trees,
Few beans and peas,
And cabbages, and works like these!"
First published in The Bulletin, 8 August 1918