A little aside from the sweep and whirl,
The shifting splendor of swift Broadway,
Is a place where sounds but gently purl,
And a spell of quiet invests the day.
There marbles are gleaming in beauty wrought,
And rosy faces of children glow,
And the painter's vision hath shrined the thought
Of tropical sunlight or polar snow.
There, late on a summer's afternoon,
Till the shadowing twilight softly fell,
I lingered, reluctant to leave too soon
A simple picture which pleased me well.
Steady and cheerful, strong and sweet,
Was the womanly face that drew my gaze,
With a look which smiled my own to meet,
A wonderful blending of prayer and praise.
'T was a dame of the Highlands, sturdy still,
Though youth had left her many a day,
And used to taking, with resolute will,
Her path to church in the good old way.
Whether sunlit mists to the mountains clime
Or the tempest athwart them were driven wild,
She went to the kirk, where the psalms were sung,
Fearless and brave as an eager child.
I thought how often some trifle kept
Our dainty women from cushioned pews:
Too late, perhaps, in the morn they've slept,
Or the hat is amiss, or tight the shoes;
There's the hint of rain in the clouded sky,
And the book and the easy-chair invite.
I thought as I gazed in the steadfast eye
Of the Highland mother, blithe and bright—
Little she cared for the bitter blast,
Or the swirl of the storm in her lifted face;
She would win through its uttermost stress at last,
And endurance was hers, from a hardy race.
A narrow life in her lowly cot
She led, as she cared for barn and byre;
But narrower far, where God is not,
Are lives which the loftiest men desire.
There's something grand in the quiet way
Yon strong soul passes, from sun to sun,
The week-day hours and the Sabbath-day
Counting alike by duties done.
The breath of the hills in that picture fair,
With the tangled heather bent and wet,
And the tranquil woman, amid it there,
Are cordial and help to my spirit yet.