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Hymn Of The Tomb Builders
by [?]


They were three old men with hoary hair
And beards of wintry gray,
And they digged a grave in the yellow soil,
And they crooned this song as they plied their toil,
In the fading light of day:

Hither ye bring your workmen,
Like tools that are broken and bent,
To pay your due to their cunning
After their skill is spent;
Hither ye bring them and lay them,
And go when your prayers are said,
Back where the stress of your living
Makes mock of the peace of your dead.

From the iron-paved roads of traffic,
From the shell-scarred fields of war,
From the lands of earth’s burning girdle
To the snows of her uttermost star,
Ye bring in your sons and daughters
From the glare and the din of today,
Giving them back unto silence,
And sealing their lips with clay.

Some drunk with the wine of carnage,
Some clothed with the shreds of power,
Some stark from the fields of famine,
Some decked for the pleasaunce bower,
And all with their still clay fingers
To their cold clay bosoms laid
To sleep from aeon to aeon
At the lowly Sign of the Spade.

Afar through the quickening ages
Fell the first keen notes of strife,
And they held out their hands in the darkness
Toward that blatant boon called life;
And they heard the building of empires,
And the restless trampling of men,
And the dust that was made for heartbreak
Grew poignant even then.

Your bones they are moist with marrow,
And with milk your breasts are full;
Your hands they are strong and subtle,
And your life-blood never dull;
But fail at the sword or the plowshare,
Or fall at the forge or the wheel,
And ye only mar earth’s bosom
With a wound that her dust will heal.

Hither ye bring your workmen,
And it’s ever the tale retold
Of the useless tools of the builders,
Battered and broken and old;
Hither ye bring them and lay them,
And go when your prayers are said,
For the blood of your living is dearer
Than the idle dust of your dead.

They were three old men with hoary hair
And beards of wintry gray,
And they shouldered their spades, for their work was done,
And they left behind at the set of sun
A grave in the yellow clay.