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  Mother Country  

 

Oh what is that country
    And where can it be,
Not mine own country,
    But dearer far to me?
Yet mine own country,
    If I one day may see
Its spices and cedars,
    Its gold and ivory.

As I lie dreaming
    It rises, that land;
There rises before me
    Its green golden strand,
With the bowing cedars
    And the shining sand;
It sparkles and flashes
    Like a shaken brand.

Do angels lean nearer
    While I lie and long?
I see their soft plumage
    And catch their windy song,
Like the rise of a high tide
    Sweeping full and strong;
I mark the outskirts
    Of their reverend throng.

Oh what is a king here,
    Or what is a boor?
Here all starve together,
    All dwarfed and poor;
Here Death's hand knocketh
    At door after door,
He thins the dancers
    From the festal floor.

Oh what is a handmaid,
    Or what is a queen?
All must lie down together
    Where the turf is green,
The foulest face hidden,
    The fairest not seen;
Gone as if never
    They had breathed or been.

Gone from sweet sunshine
    Underneath the sod,
Turned from warm flesh and blood
    To senseless clod;
Gone as if never
    They had toiled or trod,
Gone out of sight of all
    Except our God.

Shut into silence
    From the accustomed song
Shut into solitude
    From all earth's throng,
Run down though swift of foot,
    Thrust down though strong;
Life made an end of,
    Seemed it short or long.

Life made an end of,
    Life but just begun;
Life finished yesterday,
    Its last sand run;
Life new-born with the morrow
    Fresh as the sun:
While done is done for ever;
    Undone, undone.

And if that life is life,
    This is but a breath,
The passage of a dream
    And the shadow of death;
But a vain shadow
    If one considereth;
Vanity of vanities,
    As the Preacher saith.

       - Christina G. Rossetti


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