THE BLIND CARAVAN - Stephen C. Foster Poems

 
 

Poems » stephen c. foster » the blind caravan

THE BLIND CARAVAN

I am a slave, both dumb and blind,
     Upon a journey dread;
The iron hills lie far behind,
     The seas of mist ahead.

Amid a mighty caravan
     I toil a sombre track,
The strangest road since time began,
     Where no foot turneth back.

Here rosy youth at morning's prime
     And weary man at noon
Are crooked shapes at eventime
     Beneath the haggard moon.

Faint elfin songs from out the past
     Of some lost sunset land
Haunt this grim pageant drifting, vast,
     Across the trackless sand.

And often for some nightward wind
     We stay a space and hark,
Then leave the sunset lands behind,
     And plunge into the dark.

Somewhere, somewhere, far on in front,
     There strides a lonely man
Who is all strength, who bears the brunt,
     The battle and the ban.

I know not of his face or form,
     His voice or battle-scars,
Or how he fronts the haunted storm
     Beneath the wintry stars;

I know not of his wisdom great
     That leads this sightless host
Beyond the barren hills of fate
     Unto some kindlier coast.

But often 'mid the eerie black
     Through this sad caravan
A strange, sweet thrill is whispered back,
     Borne on from man to man.

A strange, glad joy that fills the night
     Like some far marriage horn,
Till every heart is filled with light
     Of some belated morn.

The way is long, and rough the road,
     And bitter the night, and dread,
And each poor slave is but a goad
     To lash the one ahead.

Evil the foes that lie in wait
     To slay us in the pass,
Bloody the slaughter at the gate,
     And bleak the wild morass;

And I am but a shriveled thing
     Beneath the midnight sky;
A wasted, wan remembering
     Of days long wandered by.

And yet I lift my sightless face
     Toward the eerie light,
And tread the lonely way we trace
     Across the haunted night.