Midnight Sonnets: An Old Friend by Henry Halloran

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He did much out of nothing, -- save a will  
   Resolute to do, or strive to do, some good
   For that great hobby-horse, the multitude.
He labored stoutly, both with tongue and quill;
A very Sysiphus, up the steep hill
   Of hard beginnings he the load withstood,
   That would have crushed a man of feebler mood,
And reached at length the summit of the hill,
      Do heads grow ever dizzy on a steep?
   Do those beneath strive ever to pull down     
Does folly dig a pit for conscious pride?
A grateful heart would some shortcomings hide, --
   Remember, how, he long had served the town, --
      Nor on grey hairs unmanly insults heap !    


We'll say the steed was really good in pace, --
   Rattled our buggy into town each day;
   Never was wearied in the common way,
Nor ever feared a tram-car horror to face;
Kept his feet safely, with a lofty grace,
   On wooden pavements, and on miry clay;
   Never, when corn-fed, was too hot or gay,
And of the pack of cards was really ace.     
Some scoffers swore he was a very Jack;  
   His master, out of temper, dragged a bit
At the old fellow's mouth, and pulled him back.  
   He tripped upon a stone, grazed knees, got hit;
"A vicious brute!" exclaimed the ignorant pack, --
   To see the cause they had too little wit.


"The press condemn him!" Well, I know the press,
   And wrought for it before some men were born,
   Who now would raise on high a stubborn horn,
And smite their brother in his sore distress.
These be not its true guides, for littleness
   Is not of its true functions, nor hot scorn;
   It's light is like the sun's at early morn,
Scattering the mists, and seeking power to bless;
      The great precursor of the coming time,
   The champion, cap-a-pie, of deathless truth,
   The Caesar, in its might and in its ruth,
      That smites injustice even as a crime.    
   That to the weak is gentle in its might,
   A beacon to the world, Pharos of coming light.   


Never again on public favor lean,
   But on eternal right fix well thy glance.   
   And vow to inward self, "I will advance   
And show what in the future must be seen;     
We cannot rest in 'what is' or 'has been;
   Life is eternal progress, hanging back
   Is craven-hearted ; let no sail be slack,   
But fill until it rip towards skies serene;"
Pray God to aid thee upon bended knee;
Think how to bless thy fellow men, e'en yet.
   Grapple great truth unto thy conscious heart;
   Do right to all men, whatsoe'r their part;       
Then shalt thou triumph like the sun, nor set
'Till in "I am," thou prov'st what thou hast been.

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 27 February 1886

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on February 27, 2012 6:58 AM.

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