Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
1271. To an Obscure Poet Who Lives on My Hearth
 
By Charles Lotin Hildreth
 
 
WHY shouldst thou cease thy plaintive song
    When I draw near?
Has mankind done thee any wrong,
    That thou shouldst fear?
 
To see thee scampering to thy den,        5
    So wild and shy,
’T would seem thou know’st the ways of men
    As well as I.
 
’T is true the palmy days are o’er
    When all thy kind—        10
Poor minstrel folk—at every door
    Might welcome find;
 
For song was certain password then
    To every breast,
And current coin that bought from men        15
    Food, fire, and rest;
 
And these are more discerning days,
    More coldly just:
I doubt thy rustic virelays
    Would earn a crust.        20
 
The age is shrill and choral-like;
    For many sing,
And he who would be heard must strike
    Life’s loudest string.
 
And thou, poor minstrel of the field,        25
    With slender tone,
Art type of many a singer sealed
    To die unknown.
 
And many a heart that would have sung
    Songs sweet to hear,        30
Could passion give itself a tongue
    To catch the ear.
 
But, cricket, thou shouldst trust in me,
    For thou and I
Are brothers in adversity,—        35
    Both poor and shy.
 
And since the height of thy desire
    Is but to live,
Thy little share of food and fire
    I freely give.        40
 
And thou shalt sing of fields and hills
    And forest streams,
Till thy rapt invocation stills
    My troubled dreams.
 

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