THE spring day was all of a flutter with flags ;
by Sir Lewis Morris
The mad chimes were beating like surf in the air ;
The beggars had slunk out of sight with their rags ;
And the balconies teemed with the rich and the fair.
And below, on each side, the long vistas were set
In a frame-work of faces, patient and white,
Wives, mothers, sweethearts, with full eyes wet,
And sick hearts longing to see the sight.
Till at length, when the evening was waning, there ran
A stir through the crowd, and far-off, like a flame,
The setting sun burned on the helms of the van,
And with trampling of hoofs the proud conquerors came.
And with every step they advanced, you might hear
Women's voices, half-maddened with long-deferred joy :
'Thank God ! he is safe. See, my love, we are here !
See ! here am I, darling ; and this is our boy !'
Or, 'Here am I, dearest, still iaithful and true ;
Your own love as of old!' Or an agonised cry,
As the loved face came not with the comrades she knew
And the rough soldiers found not a word to reply.
And pitiful hands led her softly away,
With a loving heart rent and broken in twain ;
And the triumph sweeps onward, in gallant array,
The life and the hope, the despair and the pain.
Where was it? In Egypt, Assyria, Greece, Rome?
Ages since, or to-day ; in the old world, or new ?
Who shall tell ? From all time these strange histories come ;
And to-day, as of old, the same story is true.
And the long line sweeps past, and the dull world rolls on
Though the rapture is dead and the sad tears are dry,
And careless of all, till the progress be done,
Life rides like a conqueror triumphing by.