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The Earth Voice And Its Answer
by [?]


I plucked a fair flower that grew
In the shadow of summer’s green trees–
A rose petalled flower,
Of all in the bower,
Best beloved of the bee and the breeze
I plucked it, and kissed it, and called it my own–
This beautiful, beautiful flower
That alone in the cool, tender shadow had grown,
Fairest and first in the bower

Then a murmur I heard at my feet–
A pensive and sorrowful sound,
And I stooped me to hear,
While tear after tear
Rained down from my eyes to the ground,
As I, listening, heard
This sorrowful word,
So breathing of anguish profound:–

“I have gathered the fairest and best,
I have gathered the rarest and sweetest,
My life-blood I’ve given
As an off’ring to Heaven
In this flower, of all flowers the completest
Through the long, quiet night,
With the pale stars in sight,–
Through the sun-lighted day
Of the balm-breathing May,
I have toiled on, in silence, to bring
To perfection this beautiful flower,
The pride of the blossoming bower–
The queenliest blossom of spring.

“But I am forgotten;–none heed
Me–the brown soil where it grew,
That drank in by day
The sun’s blessed ray,
And gathered at twilight the dew;–
That fed it by night and by day
With nectar drops slowly distilled
In the secret alembic of earth,
And diffused through each delicate vein
Till the sunbeams were charmed to remain,
Entranced in a dream of delight,
Stealing in with their arrows of light
Through the calyx of delicate green,
The close-folded petals between,
Down into its warm hidden heart–
Until, with an ecstatic start
At the rapture, so wondrous and new,
That throbbed at its innermost heart,
Wide opened the beautiful eyes,
And lo! with a sudden surprise
Caught the glance of the glorious sun–
The ardent and worshipful one–
Looking down from his heavenly place,
And the blush of delighted surprise
Remained in its warm glowing dyes,
Evermore on that radiant face

“Then mortals, in worshipful mood,
Bent over my wonderful flower,
And called it ‘the fairest,’
The richest, the rarest,
The pride of the blossoming bower
But I am forgotten. Ah me!
I, the brown soil where it grew,
That cherished and nourished
The stem where it flourished,
And fed it with sunshine and dew

“O Man! will it always be thus?–
Will you take the rich gifts that are given
By the tireless workers of earth,
By the bountiful Father in heaven,
And, intent on the worth of the gift,
Never think of the maker, the giver?–
Of the long patient effort,–the thought
That secretly grew in the brain
Of the Poet to measure and strain,
Till it burst on your ear, richly fraught
With the rapturous sweetness of song?–

What availeth it, then, that ye toil,
You, thought’s patient producers, to be
Unloved and unprized,
Trodden down and despised
By those whom you toil for, like me–
Forgotten and trampled like me?–“

Then my heart made indignant reply,
In spite of my fast falling tears–
In spite of the wearisome years
Of toil unrequited that lay
In the track of the past, and the way
Thorn-girded I’d trod in those years–

“So be it, if so it must be!–
May I know that the thing
I so patiently bring
From the depths of the heart and the brain,
A creature of beauty goes forth,
Midst the hideous phantoms that press
And crowd the lone paths of this work-weary life,
Midst the labor and care, the temptation and strife,
To gladden and comfort and bless!

“So be it, if so it must be!–
May I know that the thing
I so patiently bring
From the depths of the heart and the brain,
Goes forth with a conquerors might,
Through the gloom of this turbulent world,
Potent for truth and for right,
Where truth has so often been hurled
‘Neath the feet of the throng–
The hurrying, passionate throng!–

“What matter though I be forgot,
Since toil is itself a delight?–
Since the power to do,
To the soul that is true,
Is the uttered command of the Lord
To labor and faint not, but still
To pursue and achieve,
And ever believe.
That ACHIEVEMENT ALONE IS REWARD!”