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

James Chapman Woods

The Soul Stithy

MY soul, asleep between its body throes,

Mid leagues of darkness watch’d a furnace glare,

And breastless arms that wrought laborious there,—

Power without plan, wherefrom no purpose grows,—

Welding white metal on a forge with blows,

Whence stream’d the singing sparks like flaming hair,

Which whirling gusts ever abroad would bear:

And still the stithy hammers fell and rose.

And then I knew those sparks were souls of men,

And watch’d them driven like starlets down the wind.

A myriad died and left no trace to tell;

An hour like will-o’-the-wisps some lit the fen;

Now one would leave a trail of fire behind:

And still the stithy-hammers rose and fell.