The dew stands on the dormer panes,
The cross November sun
Has sent the daylight off to bed
Before the night's begun;
The dull red embers, half aglow,
Are sulking in the grate,
And let the lonely shadows grow
All dark and desolate;
Shadows of things that go awry,
Or waver to and fro;
Shadows of playthings bought so dear
And broken long ago;
Shadows of friends who played till mirth
Grew sad and went in pain:
Where is the merry light that makes
Old shadows smile again?
Hark! little sandals softly beat
Upon the attic stair,
And truant mischief breathless creeps
With whispered, "Is he there?"
A story? 'Tis a fateful task
To fill the open brow:
Who knows what plans of God depend
On all it garners now?
Where shall we lead the clambering limbs,
The big blue fearless eyes?
Down to the gold mine's narrowing drift,
Or to the widening skies
Where, in the space around the stars,
Are countless worlds astray,
Whose peoples call for pioneers
To find the safer way?
Ay, let us tell the generous tale
Of giants real and bold,
Who grew so great they would not stoop
To gather fame and gold;
But hurled the mountains from our path,
And drained our quagmires dry,
And held our foes at bay the while
They bore our weaklings by;
Giants by whose unselfish toil
Our land was first begun,
Where good and useful men and maids
Make merry as they run.
Ah, may you miss the dismal tracks
That aimless feet have trod,
And follow where our pioneers
Make open ways to God.