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.
 
Earth’s Burdens
 
Ernest Charles Jones (1819–69)
 
 
WHY groaning so, thou solid earth,
  Though sprightly summer cheers?
Or is thine old heart dead to mirth?
  Or art thou bow’d by years?
 
“Nor am I cold to summer’s prime,        5
  Nor knows my heart decay;
Nor am I bow’d by countless time,
  Thou atom of a day!
 
“I lov’d to list when tree and tide
  Their gentle music made,        10
And lightly on my sunny side
  To feel the plough and spade.
 
“I lov’d to hold my liquid way
  Through floods of living light;
To kiss the sun’s bright hand by day,        15
  And count the stars by night.
 
“I lov’d to hear the children’s glee,
  Around the cottage door,
And peasant’s song right merrily
  The glebe come ringing o’er.        20
 
“But man upon my back has roll’d
  Such heavy loads of stone,
I scarce can grow the harvest gold:
  ’T is therefore that I groan.
 
“And when the evening dew sinks mild        25
  Upon my quiet breast,
I feel the tear of the houseless child
  Break burning on my rest.
 
“Oh! where are all the hallow’d sweets,
  The harmless joys I gave?        30
The pavement of your sordid streets
  Are stones on Virtue’s grave.
 
“And thick and fast as autumn leaves
  My children drop away,
A gathering of unripen’d sheaves        35
  By premature decay.
 
“Gaunt misery holds the cottage door,
  And olden honor’s flown,
And slaves are slavish more and more:
  ’T is therefore that I groan.”        40
 

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