Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VII. Descriptive: Narrative
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VII. Descriptive: Narrative.  1904.
 
Narrative Poems: IX. Scotland
Barclay of Ury
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)
 
UP the streets of Aberdeen,
By the kirk and college green,
  Rode the laird of Ury;
Close behind him, close beside,
Foul of mouth and evil-eyed,        5
  Pressed the mob in fury.
 
Flouted him the drunken churl,
Jeered at him the serving-girl,
  Prompt to please her master;
And the begging carlin, late        10
Fed and clothed at Ury’s gate,
  Cursed him as he passed her.
 
Yet with calm and stately mien
Up the streets of Aberdeen
  Came he slowly riding;        15
And to all he saw and heard
Answering not with bitter word,
  Turning not for chiding.
 
Came a troop with broadswords swinging,
Bits and bridles sharply ringing,        20
  Loose and free and froward:
Quoth the foremost, “Ride him down!
Push him! prick him! through the town
  Drive the Quaker coward!”
 
But from out the thickening crowd        25
Cried a sudden voice and loud:
  “Barclay! Ho! a Barclay!”
And the old man at his side
Saw a comrade, battle-tried,
  Scarred and sunburned darkly;        30
 
Who, with ready weapon bare,
Fronting to the troopers there,
  Cried aloud: “God save us!
Call ye coward him who stood
Ankle-deep in Lutzen’s blood,        35
  With the brave Gustavus?”
 
“Nay, I do not need thy sword,
Comrade mine,” said Ury’s lord;
  “Put it up, I pray thee.
Passive to his holy will,        40
Trust I in my Master still,
  Even though he slay me.
 
“Pledges of thy love and faith,
Proved on many a field of death,
  Not by me are needed.”        45
Marvelled much that henchman bold,
That his laird, so stout of old,
  Now so meekly pleaded.
 
“Woe ’s the day,” he sadly said,
With a slowly shaking head,        50
  And a look of pity;
“Ury’s honest lord reviled,
Mock of knave and sport of child,
  In his own good city!
 
“Speak the word, and, master mine,        55
As we charged on Tilly’s line,
  And his Walloon lancers,
Smiting through their midst, we ’ll teach
Civil look and decent speech
  To these boyish prancers!”        60
 
“Marvel not, mine ancient friend,—
Like beginning, like the end!”
  Quoth the laird of Ury;
“Is the sinful servant more
Than his gracious Lord who bore        65
  Bonds and stripes in Jewry?
 
“Give me joy that in his name
I can bear with patient frame,
  All these vain ones offer;
While for them he suffered long,        70
Shall I answer wrong with wrong,
  Scoffing with the scoffer?
 
“Happier I, with loss of all,—
Hunted, outlawed, held in thrall,
  With few friends to greet me,—        75
Than when reeve and squire were seen
Riding out from Aberdeen
  With bared heads to meet me;
 
“When each goodwife, o’er and o’er,
Blessed me as I passed her door;        80
  And the snooded daughter,
Through her casement glancing down,
Smiled on him who bore renown
  From red fields of slaughter.
 
“Hard to feel the stranger’s scoff,        85
Hard the old friends’ falling off,
  Hard to learn forgiving;
But the Lord his own rewards,
And his love with theirs accords
  Warm and fresh and living.        90
 
“Through this dark and stormy night
Faith beholds a feeble light
  Up the blackness streaking;
Knowing God’s own time is best,
In a patient hope I rest        95
  For the full day-breaking!”
 
So the laird of Ury said,
Turning slow his horse’s head
  Towards the Tolbooth prison,
Where, through iron gates, he heard        100
Poor disciples of the Word
  Preach of Christ arisen!
 
Not in vain, confessor old,
Unto us the tale is told
  Of thy day of trial!        105
Every age on him who strays
From its broad and beaten ways
  Pours its seven fold vial.
 
Happy he whose inward ear
Angel comfortings can hear,        110
  O’er the rabble’s laughter;
And, while hatred’s fagots burn,
Glimpses through the smoke discern,
  Of the good hereafter.
 
Knowing this,—that never yet        115
Share of truth was vainly set
  In the world’s wide fallow;
After hands shall sow the seed,
After hands from hill and mead
  Reap the harvests yellow.        120
 
Thus, with somewhat of the seer,
Must the moral pioneer
  From the future borrow,—
Clothe the waste with dreams of grain,
And, on midnight’s sky of rain,        125
  Paint the golden morrow!
 
 
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