by John Crowe Ransom
If the power of God were mine, and the ample turn,
I never could dwell in my law, which is 'stablished and stern,
But my pity would plague me still! In the fare of my state
I would summon my ministers often to reprobate:
'Do ye see them walk on the unwaked streets of the town?
Are they not of my handmaidens, burdened and bending down?
'It is not yet day, and my tale of the stars not told,
But already they bear of their burdens, and tremble of cold.
'Do ye heed not her, ye stony and reconciled,
One gathering sticks for a fire, who is heavy with child?
'And one was so heavy with sleep that she watched not, and slept
Till it nearly was dawn, and then she arose and wept.
'Previsal I made, and the burning of quenchless gold,
Yet still they bedevil my kingdom, the dark and the cold.
'There is labor appointed, I know not if it shall cease,
Yet anon cometh night, and my daughters shall lie in peace.
'What avoideth my glory of firmaments keeping the way,
If the poor soft flesh must trouble before the day?
'Or spectacular stars, as they race to encircuit the deep,
If my littlest people is driven, and needeth sleep?
'For my absolute heaven is high, and nothing dependeth,
Yet it twitcheth my heart, when weeping of women ascendeth.
'Then arrange ye again how the people's task be done,
There shall no woman toil till they see my sign of the sun.'
Last updated October 11, 2022