AN OLD SONG

Two roadways lead from This land to That; and one is the road of Prayer;
And one is the road of Old Time Songs, and every note is a stair.

A shabby old man with a music machine on the sordid city street,--
But suddenly earth seemed Arcady, and life grew young and sweet
For the city street fled and the world was green and a little house stood by the sea;
And she came singing a martial air (she who was peace itself);
She brought back with her the old strange charm of mingled pathos and glee;
With her eyes of a child in a woman's face and her soul of a saint in an elf.

She had been gone for many a year, they tell us it is not far,--
That silent place where the dear ones go but it might as well be a star.
Yes it might as well be a distant star, as a beautiful Near-By-Land.
If we hear no voice, and see no face, and feel no touch of a hand.

But now she had come, for I saw her there, and she looked so blithe and young;
(Not white and still as I saw her last) and the rose that she wore was red;
And her voice soared up in a birdlike trill, at the end of the song she sung,
And she mimicked a soldier's warlike stride and tossed back her dear little head.

She had been gone for many a year, and never came back before;
But I think she dwells in a Near-By-Land since a song jarred open the door;
Yes I think it is surely a Near-By-Land, that place where our loved ones are
For the song would never have reached her ear had she been on a distant star.

Two roadways lead from This land to That; and one is the road of Prayer;
And one is the road of Old Time Songs, and every note is a stair.

World Voices by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
New York : Hearst's International Library Company 1916.


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