Verse > Anthologies > Jessie B. Rittenhouse, ed. > The Little Book of Modern Verse
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Jessie B. Rittenhouse, ed. (1869–1948).  The Little Book of Modern Verse.  1917.
 
109. Black Sheep
 
By Richard Burton
 
 
FROM their folded mates they wander far,
  Their ways seem harsh and wild;
They follow the beck of a baleful star,
  Their paths are dream-beguiled.
 
Yet haply they sought but a wider range,        5
  Some loftier mountain-slope,
And little recked of the country strange
  Beyond the gates of hope.
 
And haply a bell with a luring call
  Summoned their feet to tread        10
Midst the cruel rocks, where the deep pitfall
  And the lurking snare are spread.
 
Maybe, in spite of their tameless days
  Of outcast liberty,
They’re sick at heart for the homely ways        15
  Where their gathered brothers be.
 
And oft at night, when the plains fall dark
  And the hills loom large and dim,
For the Shepherd’s voice they mutely hark,
  And their souls go out to him.        20
 
Meanwhile, “Black sheep! Black sheep!” we cry,
  Safe in the inner fold;
And maybe they hear, and wonder why,
  And marvel, out in the cold.
 

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