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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Ernest Charles Jones 1819–69

Earth’s Burdens


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,

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,

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,

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.

“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

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?

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

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.”