by Francis Adams (1862 – 1893)
I came to buy a Book. It was a shop
Down in a narrow quiet street, and here
They kept, I knew, these socialistic books.
I entered. All was bare, but clean and neat.
The shelves were ranged with unsold wares; the counter
Held a few sheets and papers. Here and there
Hung prints and calendars. I rapped, and straight
A young girl came out through the inner door.
She had a clear and simple face; I saw
She had no beauty, loveliness , nor charm,
But, as your eyes met those grey-lit eyes
Like to a mountain spring so pure, you thought:
“He’d be a clever man who looked, and lied!”
I asked her for the book….We spoke a little…
Her words were as her face was, as her eyes.
Yes, she’d read many books like this of mine;
Also some poets, Shelley, Byron too,
And Tennyson, but “poets only dreamed!”
Thus, then, we talked, until by chance I spoke
A phrase and then a name. ‘Twas “Henry George”.
Her face lit up. O it was beautiful,
Or never woman’s face was! “Henry George?”
She said and then a look, a flush, a smile,
Such as sprung up in Magdalene’s cheek
When some voice uttered Jesus, made her angel.
She turned and pointed up the counter. I,
Loosing mine eyes from that ensainted face,
Looked also. ‘Twas a print, a common print,
The head and shoulders of a man. She said,
Quite in a whisper: “Henry George! That’s him.”
Darling, that in this life of wrong and woe,
The lovely woman-soul within you brooded
And wept and loved and hated and pitied,
And knew not what its helplessness could do,
Its helplessness, its sheer bewilderment –
That then those eyes should fall, those angel eyes,
On one who’d brooded, wept, loved, hated, pitied,
Even as you had, but therefrom had sprung
A hope a plan, a scheme to right this wrong,
And make this woe less hateful to the sun –
And that pure soul had found its Master thus
To listen to, remember, watch and love,
And trust the dawn that rose up through the dark:
O this was good
For me to see, as for some weary hopeless
Longer and toiler for “the Kingdom of Heaven”
To stand some lifeless twilight hour, and hear,
There in a dim-lit house of Lazarus,
Mary who said: “Thus, thus he looked, he spake,
The Master!” – So to hear her rapturous words,
And gaze upon her upraised heavenly face!