William Barnes

(1801-1886 / England)

My Fore-Elders


When from the child, that still is led
By hand, a father's hand is gone, ---
Or when a few-year'd mother dead
Has left her children growing on, ---
When men have left their children staid,
And they again have boy and maid, ---
O, can they know, as years may roll,
Their children's children, soul by soul?
If this with souls in heaven can be,
Do my fore-elders know of me?

My elders' elders, man and wife,
Were borne full early to the tomb,
With children still in childhood life
To play with butterfly or bloom.
And did they see the seasons mould
Their faces on, from young to old,
As years might bring them, turn by turn,
A time to laugh or time to mourn?
If this with souls in heaven can be,
Do my fore-elders know of me?

How fain I now would walk the floor
Within their mossy porch's bow,
Or linger by their church's door,
Or road that bore them to and fro,
Or nook where once they build their mow,
Or gateway open to their plough
(Though now indeed no gate is swung
That their live hands had ever hung ), ---
If I could know that they would see
Their child's late child, and know of me.

Submitted: Friday, April 16, 2010

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