Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IV. The Higher Life
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IV. The Higher Life.  1904.
IV. Sabbath: Worship: Creed
The Poor Man’s Day
James Grahame (1765–1811)
From “The Sabbath”

HOW still the morning of the hallowed day!
Mute is the voice of rural labor, hushed
The ploughboy’s whistle and the milkmaid’s song.
The scythe lies glittering in the dewy wreath
Of tedded grass, mingled with faded flowers,        5
That yestermorn bloomed waving in the breeze;
Sounds the most faint attract the ear,—the hum
Of early bee, the trickling of the dew,
The distant bleating, midway up the hill.
Calmness sits throned on yon unmoving cloud.        10
To him who wanders o’er the upland leas
The blackbird’s note comes mellower from the dale;
And sweeter from the sky the gladsome lark
Warbles his heaven-tuned song; the lulling brook
Murmurs more gently down the deep-worn glen;        15
While from yon lowly roof, whose circling smoke
O’ermounts the mist, is heard at intervals
The voice of psalms, the simple song of praise.
With dovelike wings Peace o’er yon village broods;
The dizzying mill-wheel rests; the anvil’s din        20
Hath ceased; all, all around is quietness.
Less fearful on this day, the limping hare
Stops, and looks back, and stops, and looks on man,
Her deadliest foe. The toil-worn horse, set free,
Unheedful of the pasture, roams at large;        25
And as his stiff, unwieldy bulk he rolls,
His iron-armed hoofs gleam in the morning ray.
  But chiefly man the day of rest enjoys.
Hail, Sabbath! thee I hail, the poor man’s day.
On other days the man of toil is doomed        30
To eat his joyless bread, lonely; the ground
Both seat and board; screened from the winter’s cold
And summer’s heat by neighboring hedge or tree;
But on this day, imbosomed in his home,
He shares the frugal meal with those he loves;        35
With those he loves he shares the heartfelt joy
Of giving thanks to God—not thanks of form,
A word and a grimace, but reverently,
With covered face and upward earnest eye.
  Hail, Sabbath! thee I hail, the poor man’s day.        40
The pale mechanic now has leave to breathe
The morning air, pure from the city’s smoke;
While, wandering slowly up the river-side,
He meditates on Him, whose power he marks
In each green tree that proudly spreads the bough        45
As in the tiny dew-bent flowers that bloom
Around its roots; and while he thus surveys,
With elevated joy, each rural charm,
He hopes, yet fears presumption in the hope,
That heaven may be one Sabbath without end.        50

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