William Watson

1858-1935 / England


A squalid, hideous town, where streams run black
With vomit of a hundred roaring mills,-
Hither occasion calls me; and ev'n here,
All in the sable reek that wantonly
Defames the sunlight and deflowers the morn,
One may at least surmise the sky still blue.
Ev'n here, the myriad slaves of the machine
Deem life a boon; and here, in days far sped,
I overheard a kind-eyed girl relate
To her companions, how a favouring chance
By some few shillings weekly had increased
The earnings of her household, and she said:
'So now we are happy, having all we wished,'-
Felicity indeed! though more it lay
In wanting little than in winning all.

Felicity indeed! Across the years
To me her tones come back, rebuking; me,
Spreader of toils to snare the wandering Joy
No guile may capture and no force surprise-
Only by them that never wooed her, won.

O curst with wide desires and spacious dreams,
Too cunningly do ye accumulate
Appliances and means of happiness,
E'er to be happy! Lavish hosts, ye make
Elaborate preparation to receive
A shy and simple guest, who, warned of all
The ceremony and circumstance wherewith
Ye mean to entertain her, will not come.
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