Edwin Markham

Edwin Markham
Lincoln, Man of the People
When the Norn Mother saw the Whirlwind Hour
Greatening and darkening as it hurried on,
She left the Heaven of Heroes and came down
To make a man to meet the mortal need.
She took the tried clay of the common road—
Clay warm yet with the genial heat of Earth,
Dashed through it all a strain of prophecy;
Tempered the heap with thrill of human tears;
Then mixed a laughter with the serious stuff.
Into the shape she breathed a flame to light
That tender, tragic, ever-changing face.
Here was a man to hold against the world,
A man to match the mountains and the sea.

The color of the ground was in him, the red earth;
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Anchored to the Infinite
The builder who first bridged Niagara’s gorge,
Before he swung his cable, shore to shore,
Sent out across the gulf his venturing kite
Bearing a slender cord for unseen hands
To grasp upon the further cliff and draw
A greater cord, and then a greater yet;
Till at the last across the chasm swung
The cable then the mighty bridge in air!
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The Chant of the Vultures
We are circling, glad of the battle: we
joy in the smell of the smoke.
Fight on in the hell of the trenches: we
publish your names with a croak!
Ye will lie in dim heaps when the sunset
blows cold on the reddening sand;
Yet fight, for the dead will have wages—a
death-clutch of dust in the hand.
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The Cricket
The twilight is the morning of his day.
While Sleep drops seaward from the fading shore,
With purpling sail and dip of silver oar,
He cheers the shadowed time with roundelay,
Until the dark east softens into gray.
Now as the noisy hours are coming—hark!
His song dies gently—it is growing dark—
His night, with its one star, is on the way!
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The Daring One
I would my soul were like the bird
That dares the vastness undeterred.
Look, where the bluebird on the bough
Breaks into rapture even now!
He sings, tip-top, the tossing elm
As tho he would a world o’erwhelm.
Indifferent to the void he rides
Upon the wind’s eternal tides.
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In Death Valley
There came gray stretches of volcanic plains,
Bare, lone and treeless, then a bleak lone hill
Like to the dolorous hill that Dobell saw.
Around were heaps of ruins piled between
The Burn o’ Sorrow and the Water o’ Care;
And from the stillness of the down-crushed walls
One pillar rose up dark against the moon.
There was a nameless Presence everywhere;
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A Lyric of the Dawn
Alone I list
In the leafy tryst;
Silent the woodlands in their starry sleep—
Silent the phantom wood in waters deep:
No footfall of a wind along the pass
Startles a harebell—stirs a blade of grass.
Yonder the wandering weeds,
Enchanted in the light,
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The Man with the Hoe
Written after seeing Millet’s World-Famous Painting

God made man in His own image,
in the image of God made He him. —Genesis. Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans
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An Old Road
A host of poppies, a flight of swallows;
A flurry of rain, and a wind that follows
Shepherds the leaves in the sheltered hollows
For the forest is shaken and thinned.

Over my head are the firs for rafter;
The crows blow south, and my heart goes after;
I kiss my hands to the world with laughter—
Is it Aidenn or mystical Ind?
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For all your days prepare,
And meet them ever alike:
When you are the anvil, bear—
When you are the hammer, strike.
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Sing a While Longer
Has the bright sun set,
Has the gale grown stronger?
Still we’ll not grieve yet:
We will sing a while longer!

Has our youth been met
By Time the wronger?
Let us not grieve yet,
Let us sing a while longer!
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A Workman to the Gods
Once Phidias stood, with hammer in his hand,
Carving Minerva from the breathing stone,
Tracing with love the winding of a hair,
A single hair upon her head, whereon
A youth of Athens cried, “O Phidias,
Why do you dally on a hidden hair?
When she is lifted to the lofty front
Of the Parthenon, no human eye will see.”
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