Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE WANDERER: 5. IN HOLLAND: THE PEDLER, by EDWARD ROBERT BULWER-LYTTON

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THE WANDERER: 5. IN HOLLAND: THE PEDLER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: There was a man, whom you might see
Last Line: O, yet we might........Good by!
Alternate Author Name(s): Meredith, Owen; Lytton, 1st Earl Of; Lytton, Robert
Subject(s): Netherlands; Peddlers & Peddling; Travel; Holland; Dutch People; Journeys; Trips

THERE was a man, whom you might see,
Toward nightfall, on the dusty track,
Faring, footsore and wearily --
A strong box on his back.

A speck against the flaring sky,
You saw him pass the line of dates,
The camel-drivers loitering by
From Bagdadt's dusking gates.

The merchants from Bassora stared,
And of his wares would question him,
But, without answer, on he fared
Into the evening dim.

Nor only in the east: but oft
In northern lands of ice and snow,
You might have seen, past field and croft,
That figure faring slow.

His cheek was worn; his back bent double
Beneath the iron box he bore;
And in his walk there seemed such trouble,
You saw his feet were sore.

You wondered if he ever had
A settled home, a wife, a child:
You marvelled if a face so sad
At any time had smiled.

The cheery housewife oft would fling
A pitying alms, as on he strode,
Where, round the hearth, a rosy ring,
Her children's faces glowed:

In the dark doorway, oft the maid,
Late-lingering on her lover's arm,
Watched through the twilight, half afraid,
That solitary form.

The traveller hailed him oft, ..."Good night:
The town is far: the road is lone:
God speed!"...already out of sight,
The wayfarer was gone.

But, when the night was late and still,
And the last star of all had crept
Into his place above the hill,
He laid him down and slept.

His head on that strong box he laid:
And there, beneath the star-cold skies,
In slumber, I have heard it said,
There rose before his eyes

A lovely dream, a vision fair,
Of some far-off, forgotten land,
And of a girl with golden hair,
And violets in her hand.

He sprang to kiss her..."Ah! once more
Return, beloved, and bring with thee
The glory and delight of yore, --
Lost evermore to me!"

Then, ere she answered, o'er his back
There fell a brisk and sudden stroke, --
So sound and resolute a thwack
That, with the blow, he woke...

There comes out of that iron box
An ugly hag, an angry crone;
Her crutch about his ears she knocks:
She leaves him not alone:

"Thou lazy vagabond! come, budge,
And carry me again,"...she says:
"Not half the journey's over...trudge!"
...He groans, and he obeys.

Oft in the sea he sought to fling
That iron box. But witches swim:
And wave and wind were sure to bring
The old hag back to him;

Who all the more about his brains
Belabored him with such hard blows,
That the poor devil, for his pains,
Wished himself dead, heaven knows!

Love, is it thy hand in mine?...Behold!
I see the crutch uplifted high.
The angry hag prepares to scold.
O, yet we might........Good by!

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