Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
The Waif
 
A. C. Smith
 
 
HE went into the bush, and passed
  Out of the sight of living men,
None knows the nook that held him last,
  None ever saw his face again.
 
It may be, in the wildering wood        5
  He wandered, weary, spent of breath,
Till the all-mastering solitude
  Sank to the deeper hush of death.
 
Perchance he crawled where the low bush,
  More verdant, whispered streams were nigh,        10
Hopeful, but desperate, made a rush,
  And found, O God! the bed was dry!
 
He was a waif, and friends had none;
  Who knows but in some distant land
A mother mourns her errant son,        15
  A sister longs to clasp his hand?
 
He was a waif, but with him died
  A world of yearnings deep within—
Yearning to loftiest things allied,
  But wrecked by cruel fate, or sin.        20
 
None heard the lone one’s dying prayer
  Save Infinite Pity bending o’er,
Who, haply, bore him quietly where
  They hunger and they thirst no more.
 
O ye vast woods! what fond life-dreams        25
  Ye close! what broken lives ye hide!
Darkly absorbed, like hopeful streams,
  That in dry desert lands subside.
 
Stranger the tales ye could unfold
  Than wild romancer ever penned,        30
Remaining buried in the mould
  Till time shall cease, and mystery end!
 

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