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(11 April 1857 – 23 March 1909 / Barrhead, East Renfrewshire, Scotland)

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A Northern Suburb

Nature selects the longest way,
 And winds about in tortuous grooves;
A thousand years the oaks decay;
 The wrinkled glacier hardly moves.

But here the whetted fangs of change
 Daily devour the old demesne –
The busy farm, the quiet grange,
 The wayside inn, the village green.

In gaudy yellow brick and red,
 With rooting pipes, like creepers rank,
The shoddy terraces o'erspread
 Meadow, and garth, and daisied bank.

With shelves for rooms the houses crowd,
 Like draughty cupboards in a row –
Ice-chests when wintry winds are loud,
 Ovens when summer breezes blow.

Roused by the fee'd policeman's knock,
 And sad that day should come again,
Under the stars the workmen flock
 In haste to reach the workmen's train.

For here dwell those who must fulfil
 Dull tasks in uncongenial spheres,
Who toil through dread of coming ill,
 And not with hope of happier years –

The lowly folk who scarcely dare
 Conceive themselves perhaps misplaced,
Whose prize for unremitting care
 Is only not to be disgraced

Submitted: Monday, May 21, 2012


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