|ELCore.Net > Poetry > Catholic Poets > Poems of Joyce Kilmer|
Why is that wanton gossip Fame|
So dumb about this man’s affairs?
Why do we titter at his name
Who come to buy his curious wares?
Here is a shop of wonderment.|
From every land has come a prize;
Rich spices from the Orient,
And fruit that knew Italian skies,
And figs that ripened by the sea|
In Smyrna, nuts from hot Brazil,
Strange pungent meats from Germany,
And currants from a Grecian hill.
He is the lord of goodly things|
That make the poor man’s table gay,
Yet of his worth no minstrel sings
And on his tomb there is no bay.
Perhaps he lives and dies unpraised,|
This trafficker in humble sweets,
Because his little shops are raised
By thousands in the city streets.
Yet stars in greater numbers shine,|
And violets in millions grow,
And they in many a golden line
Are sung, as every child must know.
Perhaps Fame thinks his worried eyes,|
His wrinkled, shrewd, pathetic face,
His shop, and all he sells and buys
Are desperately commonplace.
Well, it is true he has no sword|
To dangle at his booted knees.
He leans across a slab of board,
And draws his knife and slices cheese.
He never heard of chivalry,|
He longs for no heroic times;
He thinks of pickles, olives, tea,
And dollars, nickles, cents and dimes.
His world has narrow walls, it seems;|
By counters is his soul confined;
His wares are all his hopes and dreams,
They are the fabric of his mind.
Yetin a room above the store|
There is a womanand a child
Pattered just now across the floor;
The shopman looked at him and smiled.
For, once he thrilled with high romance|
And tuned to love his eager voice.
Like any cavalier of France
He wooed the maiden of his choice.
And now deep in his weary heart|
Are sacred flames that whitely burn.
He has of Heaven’s grace a part
Who loves, who is beloved in turn.
And when the long day’s work is done,|
(How slow the leaden minutes ran!)
Home, with his wife and little son,
He is no huckster, but a man!
And there are those who grasp his hand,|
Who drink with him and wish him well.
O in no drear and lonely land
Shall he who honors friendship dwell.
And in his little shop, who knows|
What bitter games of war are played?
Why, daily on each corner grows
A foe to rob him of his trade.
He fights, and for his fireside’s sake;|
He fights for clothing and for bread:
The lances of his foemen make
A steely halo round his head.
He decks his window artfully,|
He haggles over paltry sums.
In this strange field his war must be
And by such blows his triumph comes.
What if no trumpet sounds to call|
His armed legions to his side?
What if, to no ancestral hall
He comes in all a victor’s pride?
The scene shall never fit the deed.|
Grotesquely wonders come to pass.
The fool shall mount an Arab steed
And Jesus ride upon an ass.
This man has home and child and wife|
And battle set for every day.
This man has God and love and life;
These stand, all else shall pass away.
O Carpenter of Nazareth,|
Whose mother was a village maid,
Shall we, Thy children, blow our breath
In scorn on any humble trade?
Have pity on our foolishness|
And give us eyes, that we may see
Beneath the shopman’s clumsy dress
The splendor of humanity!
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Lane Core Jr. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Created April 2, 2001; not revised.