The Roads of Earth

The roads of Earth, from hill to hill,
Lead onward all before,
Past gated mansions of the rich
And shanties of the poor.

My footfalls by the woodland
And the meadows filled with grass,
Raise dust along the roads of Earth
That settles as I pass.

Here a cottage by a creek bed
Cradled in a copse of trees,
And the laughter now of children
Carried softly on the breeze.

Here a schoolhouse and college
With a clock tower and a bell.
In the evening air behind me
I can hear its plaintive knell.

Arm-in-arm go lads and lasses
Full of learning, love, and mirth,
But I turn my face away now
To pursue the roads of Earth.

By a lakeside under alders,
Men have built themselves a mill
And cleared the land for homesteads
Beneath a wooded hill.

And fain I'd have a cottage too
With fireside and hearth,
But I have feared to tarry
As I trod the roads of Earth.

I saw no need to hurry,
But somewhere in my mind,
The roads of Earth were calling.
Or was it just the wind?

I labored on through gloomy vales
O'er pikes and peaks and rills,
And dust along the roads of Earth
Rose ever at my heels.

I listened for a human chord
In wind and rain and sky
And always thought the roads of Earth
One day would signify.

I've rested now upon this rock
O'ergrown with lichen-moss.
The last lane on the roads of Earth
Has one more hill to cross.

I'd like to tell you what I've learned,
But have no special news.
The moss is silent on the rock,
And dust, thick on my shoes.