London's Voices

Edith Nesbit

In all my work, in all the children's play,
I hear the ceaseless hum of London near;
It cries to me, I cannot choose but hear
Its never-ending wail, by night and day.

So many millions, is it vain to pray
That all may win such peace as I have here,
With books, and work, and little children dear?
That flowers like mine may grow along their way?

Through all my happy life I hear the cry,
The exceeding bitter cry of human pain,
And shudder as the deathless wail sweeps by.
I can do nothing, even hope in vain

That the bright light of peace and purity
In those lost souls may ever shine again!

* * * * *

"Mid pine woods" whisper and the hum of bees
I heard a voice that was not bee nor wood:
"Here, in the city, Gold has trampled Good.
Come thou, do battle till this strife shall cease!"

I left the mill, the meadows and the trees,
And came to do the little best I could
For these, God's poor; and, oh, my God, I would
I had a thousand lives to give for these!

What can one hand do 'gainst a world of wrong?
Yet, when the voice said, "Come!" how could I stay?
The foe is mighty, and the battle long
(And love is sweet, and there are flowers in May),

And Good seems weak, and Gold is very strong;
But, while these fight, I dare not turn away.

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