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.
 
1676. The Cattle of His Hand
 
By Wilbur Underwood
 
 
ALL night long through the starlit air and the stillness,
Through the cool wanness of dawn and the burning of noontide,
Onward we strain with a mighty resounding of hoof-beats.
 
Heaven and earth are ashake with the terrible trampling;
Wild, straying feet of a vast and hastening army;        5
Wistful eyes that helplessly seek one another.
 
Hushed is the dark to hear the plaint of our lowing,
Mournful cry of the dumb-tired hearts within us,
Faint to death with thirst and the gnawing of hunger.
 
Day by day through the dust and heat have we thirsted;        10
Day by day through stony ways have we hungered;
Naught but a few bitter herbs that grew by the wayside.
 
What we flee that is far behind in the darkness,
Where the place of abiding for us, we know not;
Only we hark for the voice of the Master Herdsman.        15
 
Many a weary day must pass ere we hear it,
Blown on the winds, now close, now far in the distance,
Deep as the void above us and sweet as the dawn-star.
 
He it is who drives us and urges us always,
Faint with a need that is ever present within us,        20
Struggling onward and toiling one by the other.
 
Ever we long and cry for rest, but it comes not;
Broke are our feet and sore and bruised by the climbing;
Sharp is his goad in our quivering flanks when we falter,
 
And some fall down with a plaintive moaning, and perish;        25
But upward we strain nor stop, for the Voice comes to us,
Driving us on once more to the press and the struggle.
 
Then when we know His Presence the hard way lightens;
Turn we our piteous eyes to the far-stretching highway;
Struggle ahead in the dark as trusting as children.        30
 
What we flee that is far behind in the darkness,
Where the place of abiding for us, we know not;
Only we hark for the Voice—till hope fades from us.
 
Heaven and earth are ashake with the terrible trampling,
Wild straying feet of a vast and hastening army,        35
Wistful hearts that helplessly seek one another.
 
All night long through the star-lit air and the stillness,
Through the cool wanness of dawn and the burning of noontide,
Onward we strain with a mighty resounding of hoof-beats.
 

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