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The Greenwich Pensioners Post by :Andrea21 Category :Poems Author :William Lisle Bowles Date :October 2011 Read :2116

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The Greenwich Pensioners

When evening listened to the dipping oar,
Forgetting the loud city's ceaseless roar,
By the green banks, where Thames, with conscious pride,
Reflects that stately structure on his side,

Within whose walls, as their long labours close,
The wanderers of the ocean find repose,
We wore, in social ease, the hours away,
The passing visit of a summer's day.

Whilst some to range the breezy hill are gone,
I lingered on the river's marge alone,
Mingled with groups of ancient sailors gray,
And watched the last bright sunshine steal away.

As thus I mused amidst the various train
Of toil-worn wanderers of the perilous main,
Two sailors,--well I marked them, as the beam
Of parting day yet lingered on the stream,
And the sun sank behind the shady reach,--
Hastened with tottering footsteps to the beach.

The one had lost a limb in Nile's dread fight;
Total eclipse had veiled the other's sight,
For ever. As I drew, more anxious, near,
I stood intent, if they should speak, to hear;
But neither said a word. He who was blind,
Stood as to feel the comfortable wind,
That gently lifted his gray hair--his face
Seemed then of a faint smile to wear the trace.

The other fixed his gaze upon the light,
Parting, and when the sun had vanished quite,
Methought a starting tear that Heaven might bless,
Unfelt, or felt with transient tenderness,
Came to his aged eyes, and touched his cheek!
And then, as meek and silent as before,
Back, hand in hand, they went, and left the shore.

As they departed through the unheeding crowd,
A caged bird sang from the casement loud,
And then I heard alone that blind man say,
The music of the bird is sweet to-day!

I said, O heavenly Father! none may know
The cause these have for silence or for woe!
Here they appeared heartstricken and resigned
Amidst the unheeding tumult of mankind.

There is a world, a pure unclouded clime,
Where there is neither grief, nor death, nor time,
Nor loss of friends! Perhaps when yonder bell
Pealed slow, and bade the dying day farewell,
Ere yet the glimmering landscape sank to night,
They thought upon that world of distant light!
And when the blind man, lifting light his hair,
Felt the faint wind, he raised a warmer prayer;
Then sighed, as the blithe bird sang o'er his head,
No morn shall shine on me till I am dead!


(The end)
William Lisle Bowles's poem: Greenwich Pensioners

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