The Pedlar.

Men of genius can more easily starve, than the world, with
safety to itself, can continue to neglect and starve them.’
–Forster’s Life of Goldsmith.
A pedlar hawked his wares for sale,1
Through crowded streets, o’er hill and dale,2
And modestly, with gentle voice,3
Arrayed them for the people’s choice ;4
And said, ‘ A loaf is all I ask.5
And, by the winter’s fire to bask,6
A roof above, and garments plain,7
Express my greediest thirst for gain.’8
The People turned his wares about,9
And shook their heads in solemn doubt ;10
With tinsel goods made his compete,11
Yet called his Gold a ‘ copper cheat.’12
Then with a smile, and yet a sigh,13
He said, ‘ Though you refuse to buy,14
My wares away I will not take,15
I give them—for the children’s sake !’16
The little children grew in time17
To life’s most eager, early prime ;18
And seeking here, and seeking there,19
For wealth deserving of their care,20
The youths and maidens, fair and brave,21
Have found the wares the Pedlar gave.22
And loud their voices now are heard,23
By generous indignation stirred :—24
Oh shameful sires—to thus despise25
The Port’s priceless melodies !26
To tread beneath a scornful heel27
The source of our exalted weal28
Celestial truths which seem to rush29
O’er heart and soul, like morning’s flush30
In southern climes, that quick up springs,31
And charms aside night’s clouding wings !’32
And then among themselves they spoke,33
And soon one grateful feeling broke ;34
They cried, ‘ Oh, let us journey forth35
From east to west, from south to north,36
And take no rest until we find37
This uncrowned Monarch of our Mind ;38
He must be old, and may be poor39
Who left these treasures at our door !40
‛ A palace home we’ll build for him,41
And gold shall all his coffers brim ;42
Ambrosial food shall deck his board,43
And nectar drinks be freely poured,44
Such as like melted jewels flash ;45
A thousand looms shall creak and crash46
To weave him raiments, fine and meet,47
For winter’s cold or summer’s heat !’48
From north to south, from east to west49
They journey long, and take no rest ;50
Foot-sore with stony roads they’ve passed,51
They come upon a grave at last !52
A humble grave, but yet they know53
The Poet’s dust is laid below.54
Too late—too late the wreath they’ve wove55
To crown the monarch of their love !56
Yet as they bend with reverent mien,57
And pluck for relics grasses green,58
A haunting voice floats through the air,59
And softly cries, ‘ Beware—beware !60
The Poet takes, to common eyes,61
In every age a different guise ;62
Beware lest ye such Pedlar meet,63
And call his Gold a “ copper cheat !”64