Poem: Tolstoi by Mary Hannay Foott

A shabby volume on the ledge;
   An idle hand that drew it forth;
Like him who slumbered in the sedge,
   There dwelt the Prophet of the North.

Wayfarer! --- Erst with heavy tread
   The paths of Story wont to trace---
What glamour on thine eyes is shed;
   That fain thou lingerest in the place?

Methought the Masters all were gone,
   Or quenched their fires --- by age bestowed;  
Yet now, behold, a light hath shone;
   Once more a message is bestowed!

From shores held sterile there hath sailed
   A galleon filled with richest freight.
O truthful picture slow unveiled!
   O precious word long untranslate!

We gazed --- yet scarce might understand.
   We hearkened --- to the voice alone.
We praised the labour of his hand,
   And still his heart remained unknown.

We drank with him the joy of Spring;  
   In Cossack foray learnt to ride;
With him we heard the gipsies sing---
   The cannon by the Euxine tide.

Then --- sleepless in the hour when none
   Save humankind unslumbering lie---
When stars are pallid and the sun
   Unlit, and weaklings faint and die--  

With sudden skill we read the rune---
   All tremulous and yet elate---
"Dread thou no dole; crave thou no boon;
   Be Duty unto thee as Fate!"

First published in The Queenslander, 1 June 1889

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on August 21, 2010 9:41 AM.

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