Home  »  library  »  poem  »  The Rainbow’s Treasure

C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

The Rainbow’s Treasure

By John Boyle O’Reilly (1844–1890)

WHERE the foot of the rainbow meets the field,

And the grass resplendent glows,

The earth will a precious treasure yield,

So the olden story goes.

In a crystal cup are the diamonds piled,

For him who can swiftly chase

Over torrent and desert and precipice wild,

To the rainbow’s wandering base.

There were two in the field at work one day,

Two brothers, who blithely sung,

When across their valley’s deep-winding way

The glorious arch was flung!

And one saw naught but a sign of rain,

And feared for his sheaves unbound;

And one is away, over mountain and plain,

Till the mystical treasure is found!

Through forest and stream, in a blissful dream,

The rainbow lured him on;

With a siren’s guile it loitered awhile,

Then leagues away was gone.

Over brake and brier he followed fleet;

The people scoffed as he passed;

But in thirst and heat, and with wounded feet,

He nears the prize at last.

It is closer and closer—he wins the race—

One strain for the goal in sight:

Its radiance falls on his yearning face—

The blended colors unite!

He laves his brow in the iris beam—

He reaches— Ah woe! the sound

From the misty gulf where he ends his dream,

And the crystal cup is found!

’Tis the old, old story: one man will read

His lesson of toil in the sky;

While another is blind to the present need,

But sees with the spirit’s eye.

You may grind their souls in the selfsame mill,

You may bind them heart and brow;

But the poet will follow the rainbow still,

And his brother will follow the plow.