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THE PICK, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: In the depths of the pluvial season it gallantly stayed
Last Line: To the pick that was ever trusted, tried on the dead-line and true.
Subject(s): Brotherhood; Death; Funerals; Graves; Heaven; Missions & Missionaries; Dead, The; Burials; Tombs; Tombstones; Paradise

IN the depths of the pluvial season it gallantly stayed to your hand,
In the dead end of woe and creation, afar in the furthermost land,
When the saturnine heavens hung o'er you as dark as the ultimate tomb,
When the trough of the valley you gutted was filled with ineffable gloom,
When down in the depths of the planet uprooting the brontosaur's bed,
With the fire damp writhing around you, and a candle affixed to your head,
When the gold-seeking fever enthralled you, when you fitfully watered the pan,
Ever it strove to your bidding, ever it aided your plan,
Ready, resistless, reticent, friend of the conquering man!

See that its edge is like silver, tempered to try and be tried,
Look on your pick as a lover would gaze on the girl at his side,
If it responds to your promptings, when the navvy men hurry and sweat,
If it be proof to the tempest, when the clouds and the dirt-bed have met,
If its handle be graceful and lissome, slipping and soft in the hand,
Brothers, 't is meet for its mission, tend it, for ye understand;
Try it with fire and with water, try it in sand and in rock,
See that the slag can't resist it, see that it beareth the shock,
Hurling the rock from its fastness, goring the destitute earth,
Tearing the guts of the tunnel, seeking the coal for the hearth
Down in the stygian darkness, ye who can reckon its worth!

Work it for days one and twenty, then if it's true to the test,
Look on your pick as a maiden, but often the pick is the best,
For the temper of women when broken, e'en heaven can't better the same,
But the pick will regain what it loses with the touch of the hammer and flame,
And for aye will it answer your yearning, be true to the trust that ye place,
But ofttimes the falsest of females is fair in the glance of the face,
And fickle, and sure as she's fickle, your sweetheart in labour is true
As long as there's grub on the hot-plate, as long as there's hashing to do,
While the hail-harried winter is scowling, while the skies of the summer are

Enough! for the pick has been trusted, enough! for the pick has been tried
In the uncharted lands of the world, past where the pathways divide,
Where the many lead into the city of mimicry, aping and show,
Where one leads away to the vastness, the infinite vastness you know,
And there with the grim pioneer it wrought in the shine and the shade,
While he feared in the gloom and the silence, afraid as a child is afraid,
Pleased with his rough hand's caresses, slave to his wish and his whim —
Away on the fringe of the world, comrade and brother to him.

Enough, for the pick has been trusted, in hazardous, desperate years,
When the wine press was trodden alone for the vintage of sorrow and tears,
Under the blight of the upas, the bane of the vampire's wing,
Shaping the founds of a temple, razing the keeps of a king;
To labour that stood as its sponsor for the fiery baptism given,
It has proved its worth, on a toil-curséd earth, and under the eyes of
Staunch in the pitiless combat, vigorous, virile and bold,
To-day I give it the honour our fathers denied it of old,
To-day I have sung its praises, and told of the honour due
To the pick that was ever trusted, tried on the dead-line and true.

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