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

Bernard Barton (1784–1849)

Bruce and the Spider

FOR Scotland’s and for freedom’s right,

The Bruce his part had played,

In five successive fields of fight

Been conquered and dismayed;

Once more against the English host

His band he led, and once more lost

The meed for which he fought:

And now from battle, faint and worn,

The homeless fugitive forlorn

A hut’s lone shelter sought.

And cheerless was that resting-place

For him who claimed a throne,—

His canopy, devoid of grace,

The rude, rough beams alone;

The heather couch his only bed,—

Yet well I ween had slumber fled

From couch of eider-down!

Through darksome night till dawn of day,

Absorbed in wakeful thoughts he lay

Of Scotland and her crown.

The sun rose brightly, and its gleam

Fell on that hapless bed,

And tinged with light each shapeless beam

Which roofed the lowly shed:

When, looking up with wistful eye,

The Bruce beheld a spider try

His filmy thread to fling

From beam to beam of that rude cot;

And well the insect’s toilsome lot

Taught Scotland’s future king.

Six times his gossamery thread

The wary spider threw;

In vain the filmy line was sped,

For powerless or untrue

Each aim appeared, and back recoiled

The patient insect, six times foiled,

And yet unconquered still:

And soon the Bruce, with eager eye,

Saw him prepare once more to try

His courage, strength, and skill.

One effort more, his seventh and last—

The hero hailed the sign!—

And on the wished-for beam hung fast

That slender silken line!

Slight as it was, his spirit caught

The more than omen, for his thought

The lesson well could trace,

Which even he who runs may read,—

That Perseverance gains its meed,

And Patience wins the race.