With his awakening strength, (Morning and spring in the air, The strong clean scents of earth, The call of the golden shaft, Ringing across the hills) He takes up his heartening book, Opens the volume and reads, A page of old rugged Carlyle, The dour philosopher Who looked askance upon life, Lurid, ironical, grim, Yet sound at the core. But weariness returns; He lays the book aside With his glasses upon the bed, And gladly sleeps. Sleep, Blessed abundant sleep, Is all that he needs.
And when the close of day Reddens upon the hills And washes the room with rose, In the twilight hush The Summoner comes to him Ever so gently, unseen, Touches him on the shoulder; And with the departing sun Our great funning friend is gone.
How he has made us laugh! A whole generation of men Smiled in the joy of his wit. But who knows whether he was not Like those deep jesters of old Who dwelt at the courts of Kings, Arthur's, Pendragon's, Lear's, Plying the wise fool's trade, Making men merry at will, Hiding their deeper thoughts Under a motley array,-- Keen-eyed, serious men, Watching the sorry world, The gaudy pageant of life, With pity and wisdom and love?
Fearless, extravagant, wild, His caustic merciless mirth Was leveled at pompous shams. Doubt not behind that mask There dwelt the soul of a man, Resolute, sorrowing, sage, As sure a champion of good As ever rode forth to fray.
Haply--who knows?--somewhere In Avalon, Isle of Dreams, In vast contentment at last, With every grief done away, While Chaucer and Shakespeare wait, And Moliere hangs on his words, And Cervantes not far off Listens and smiles apart, With that incomparable drawl He is jesting with Dagonet now.
[Copyright, 1910, by Collier's Weekly.]