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 Net-Braiders
 
Thomas Wade (1805–75)
 
 
WITHIN a low-thatch’d hut, built in a lane
  Whose narrow pathway tendeth toward the ocean,
A solitude which, save of some rude swain
  Or fisherman, doth scarce know human motion—
Or of some silent poet, to the main        5
  Straying, to offer infinite devotion
To God, in the free universe—there dwelt
Two women old, to whom small store was dealt
 
Of the world’s misnam’d good: mother and child,
  Both aged and mateless. These two life sustain’d        10
By braiding fishing-nets; and so beguil’d
  Time and their cares, and little e’er complain’d
Of Fate or Providence: resign’d and mild,
  Whilst day by day, for years, their hour-glass rain’d
Its trickling sand, to track the wing of time,        15
They toil’d in peace; and much there was sublime
 
In their obscure contentment: of mankind
  They little knew, or reck’d; but for their being
They bless’d their Maker, with a simple mind;
  And in the constant gaze of his all-seeing        20
Eye, to his poorest creatures never blind,
  Deeming they dwelt, they bore their sorrows fleeing,
Glad still to live, but not afraid to die,
In calm expectance of Eternity.
 
And since I first did greet those braiders poor,        25
  If ever I behold fair women’s cheeks
Sin-pale in stately mansions, where the door
  Is shut to all but pride, my cleft heart seeks
For refuge in my thoughts, which then explore
  That pathway lone near which the wild sea breaks,        30
And to Imagination’s humble eyes
That hut, with all its want, is Paradise!
 

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