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
Day Breaks
Charles Mackay (1814–1889)
WHAT dost thou see, lone watcher on the tower,
Is the day breaking? Comes the wished-for hour?
Tell us the signs, and stretch abroad thy hand,
If the bright morning dawns upon the land.
“The stars are clear above me; scarcely one        5
Has dimmed its rays in reverence to the sun;
But I yet see on the horizon’s verge
Some fair, faint streaks, as if the light would surge.”
Look forth again, O watcher on the tower,—
The people wake and languish for the hour;        10
Long have they dwelt in darkness, and they pine
For the full daylight that they know must shine.
“I see not well,—the moon is cloudy still,—
There is a radiance on the distant hill;
Even as I watch the glory seems to grow;        15
But the stars blink, and the night breezes blow.”
And is that all, O watcher on the tower?
Look forth again; it must be near the hour;
Dost thou not see the snowy mountain copes,
And the green woods beneath them on the slopes?        20
“A mist envelops them; I cannot trace
Their outline; but the day comes on apace:
The clouds roll up in gold and amber flakes,
And all the stars grow dim; the morning breaks.”
We thank thee, lonely watcher on the tower:        25
But look again, and tell us, hour by hour,
All thou beholdest: many of us die
Ere the day comes; oh, give them a reply!
“I see the hill-tops now, and chanticleer
Crows his prophetic carol on mine ear;        30
I see the distant woods and fields of corn,
And ocean gleaming in the light of morn.”
Again, again, O watcher on the tower!
We thirst for daylight, and we bide the hour,
Patient, but longing. Tell us, shall it be        35
A bright, calm, glorious daylight for the free?
“I hope, but cannot tell; I hear a song,
Vivid as day itself, and clear and strong,
As of a lark—young prophet of the noon—
Pouring in sunlight his seraphic tune.”        40
What doth he say, O watcher on the tower?
Is he a prophet? does the dawning hour
Inspire his music? Is his chant sublime,
Filled with the glories of the future time?
“He prophesies,—his heart is full; his lay        45
Tells of the brightness of a peaceful day;
A day not cloudless, nor devoid of storm,
But sunny for the most, and clear and warm.”
We thank thee, watcher on the lonely tower,
For all thou tellest. Sings he of an hour        50
When error shall decay, and truth grow strong,
And light shall rule supreme and conquer wrong?
“He sings of brotherhood and joy and peace,
Of days when jealousies and hate shall cease;
When war shall cease, and man’s progressive mind        55
Soar as unfettered as its God designed.”
Well done, thou watcher on the lonely tower!
Is the day breaking? Dawns the happy hour?
We pine to see it; tell us yet again
If the broad daylight breaks upon the plain?        60
“It breaks! it comes! the misty shadows fly:
A rosy radiance gleams upon the sky;
The mountain-tops reflect it calm and clear,
The plain is yet in shade, but day is near.”

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