The thousand streets of London gray
Repel all country sights;
But bar not winds upon their way,
Nor quench the scent of new-mown hay
In depth of summer nights.
And here and there an open spot,
Still bare to light and dark,
With grass receives the wanderer hot;
There trees are growing, houses not–
They call the place a park.
Soft creatures, with ungentle guides,
God’s sheep from hill and plain,
Flow thitherward in fitful tides,
There weary lie on woolly sides,
Or crop the grass amain.
And from dark alley, yard, and den,
In ragged skirts and coats,
Come thither children of poor men,
Wild things, untaught of word or pen–
The little human goats.
In Regent’s Park, one cloudless day,
An overdriven sheep,
Come a hard, long, and dusty way,
Throbbing with thirst and hotness lay,
A panting woollen heap.
But help is nearer than we know
For ills of every name:
Ragged enough to scare the crow,
But with a heart to pity woe,
A quick-eyed urchin came.
Little he knew of field or fold,
Yet knew what ailed; his cap
Was ready cup for water cold;
Though creased, and stained, and very old,
‘Twas not much torn, good hap!
Shaping the rim and crown he went,
Till crown from rim was deep;
The water gushed from pore and rent,
Before he came one half was spent–
The other saved the sheep.
O little goat, born, bred in ill,
Unwashed, half-fed, unshorn,
Thou to the sheep from breezy hill
Wast bishop, pastor, what you will,
In London dry and lorn!
And let priests say the thing they please,
My faith, though poor and dim,
Thinks he will say who always sees,
In doing it to one of these
Thou didst it unto him.