It is cold dark midnight, ye listen
To that patter of tiny feet!
Is it one of your dogs, fair lady,
Who whines in the bleak cold street? –
Is it one of your silken spaniels
Shut out in the snow and the sleet?
My dogs sleep warm in their baskets,
Safe from the darkness and snow;
All the beasts in our Christian England
Find pity wherever they go –
(Those are only the homeless children
Who are wandering to and fro.)
Look out in the gusty darkness –
I have seen it again and again,
That shadow that flits so slowly
Up and down past the window pane;
It is surely some criminal lurking
Out there in the frozen rain?
Nay, our criminals are sheltered,
They are pitied, taught, and fed;
That is only a sister-woman
Who has got neither food nor bed –
And the Night cries “Sin to be living,”
And the River cries “Sin to be dead.”
Look out at the farthest corner
Where the wall stands blank and bare: -
Can that be a pack which a pedlar
Has left and forgotten there?
His goods laying out unsheltered
Will be spoilt by the damp night air.
Nay; - goods in our thrifty England
Are not left to lie and grow rotten,
For each man knows the market value
Of silk, or woollen, or cotton –
But in counting the riches of England
I think our poor are forgotten.
Our beasts, and our thieves, and our chattels
Have weight for good or for ill;
But the poor are only His image,
His presences, His word, His will –
And so Lazarus
lies at our doorstep,
neglects him still.
ADELAIDE A. PROCTER.