Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. I. Of Home: of Friendship
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume I. Of Home: of Friendship.  1904.
Poems of Home: V. The Home
The Country Life
Richard Henry Stoddard (1825–1903)
NOT what we would, but what we must,
  Makes up the sum of living;
Heaven is both more and less than just
  In taking and in giving.
Swords cleave to hands that sought the plough,        5
And laurels miss the soldier’s brow.
Me, whom the city holds, whose feet
  Have worn its stony highways,
Familiar with its loneliest street—
  Its ways were never my ways.        10
My cradle was beside the sea,
And there, I hope, my grave will be.
Old homestead! In that old, gray town,
  Thy vane is seaward blowing,
The slip of garden stretches down        15
  To where the tide is flowing:
Below they lie, their sails all furled,
The ships that go about the world.
Dearer that little country house,
  Inland, with pines beside it;        20
Some peach-trees, with unfruitful boughs,
  A well, with weeds to hide it:
No flowers, or only such as rise
Self-sown, poor things, which all despise.
Dear country home! Can I forget        25
  The least of thy sweet trifles?
The window-vines that clamber yet,
  Whose bloom the bee still rifles?
The roadside blackberries, growing ripe,
And in the woods the Indian Pipe?        30
Happy the man who tills his field,
  Content with rustic labor;
Earth does to him her fulness yield,
  Hap what may to his neighbor.
Well days, sound nights, oh, can there be        35
A life more rational and free?
Dear country life of child and man!
  For both the best, the strongest,
That with the earliest race began,
  And hast outlived the longest:        40
Their cities perished long ago;
Who the first farmers were we know.
Perhaps our Babels too will fall;
  If so, no lamentations,
For Mother Earth will shelter all,        45
  And feed the unborn nations;
Yes, and the swords that menace now,
Will then be beaten to the plough.

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