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The Crooked Footpath
by [?]

AH, here it is! the sliding rail
That marks the old remembered spot,–
The gap that struck our school-boy trail,–
The crooked path across the lot.

It left the road by school and church,
A pencilled shadow, nothing more,
That parted from the silver-birch
And ended at the farm-house door.

No line or compass traced its plan;
With frequent bends to left or right,
In aimless, wayward curves it ran,
But always kept the door in sight.

The gabled porch, with woodbine green,–
The broken millstone at the sill,–
Though many a rood might stretch between,
The truant child could see them still.

No rocks across the pathway lie,–
No fallen trunk is o’er it thrown,–
And yet it winds, we know not why,
And turns as if for tree or stone.

Perhaps some lover trod the way
With shaking knees and leaping heart,–
And so it often runs astray
With sinuous sweep or sudden start.

Or one, perchance, with clouded brain
From some unholy banquet reeled,–
And since, our devious steps maintain
His track across the trodden field.

Nay, deem not thus,–no earthborn will
Could ever trace a faultless line;
Our truest steps are human still,–
To walk unswerving were divine!

Truants from love, we dream of wrath;
Oh, rather let us trust the more!
Through all the wanderings of the path,
We still can see our Father’s door!