Thomas Aird

A Father's Curse: A Dream, In Four Versions: Version Three

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There stood a ruined house!
In days of other years, perchance, within
Were beds of sleep, bread, and the sacred hearth,
Children, and joy, and sanctifying grief,
A mother's lessons, and a father's prayers.
Where now that good economy of life?
Scattered throughout the earth?
Or has it burst its bounds,
And left this broken outer shell,
Swelling away into the eternal worlds?
The path to the weed-mantled well grows green;
The swallow builds among the sooty rafters,
Low flying out and in through the dashed window.

Throughout the livelong day
No form of life comes here,
Save now and then a beggar sauntering by
The stumps, wool-tufted, of the old worn hedge,
That scarcely marks where once a garden was:
He, as he turns the crazy gate, and stops,
Seeing all desolate, then comes away
Muttering, seems cheerless sad
Beyond his daily wants.
No sound of feet
Over that threshold now is heard,
Save when on bleak October eve,
The cold and cutting wind, which blows all through
The hawthorn-bush, ruffling the blue hedge-sparrow,
Shivers the little neat-herd boy beneath,
Nestling to shun the rain
That hits his flushed cheek with sore-driving drops,
And forces him to seek those sheltering walls,
Low running with bent head: But soon the awe
Of things gone by, and the wood-eating worm—
To him the death-tick—drives him forth again
Beneath the scudding blast.
There came an old man leaning on his staff,
And bowing went into that ruined house:
It was that father!
This was the home to which he brought his bride:
This was the home where his young wife had died:
This was the home where he had reared his boy.
Forth soon he came;
And many tears fell from his aged eyes
Down to the borders of his trembling garment.
Who comes? He shrinks away; he fears to meet
That man, his son! Bold strokes had made him rich:
And, vain not kind, he to a showy dwelling
Had ta'en his father from that lowly cot.
Yet there the old man totters; there those walls
Stand, what but record of his own mean birth?
He swept those walls away.

An old old man sate near a lordly house,
Trembling, not daring once to lift his eyes
Even to the speckled linnet on the bush:
'Twas he—that father!
Came sweeping silks, a haughty pair went past:
That proud disdainful fellow is his son;
And she who leans upon his arm, attired
With impudence, his wife, whose wealth has made
Him higher still, both heedless of their father.

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Thomas Aird