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Monday, 17 November 2014

The Stonen Steps (William Barnes): Dorset Poem, Epirot Images; Stone Steps, Paths, Bridges



And up these well-worn blocks of stone
I came when I first ran alone



Were these old stairs laid down by man
Before the bridge's arched span?














The Stonen Steps

A MAN AND HIS FRIEND

MAN

These stonen steps that stand so true
With tread on tread, a foot-reach wide,
Have always climb'd the sloping side
Of this steep ledge, for me and you.
Had people built the steps before
They turn'd the arch of our old door?
Were these old stairs laid down by man
Before the bridge's arched span?
Did workmen set these stones so trim
Before they built the spire so slim?

FRIEND

Ah! who can tell when first — aye who —
These steps first bore a shoe.

MAN

And here beside the sloping hump,
From stone to stone with faces flat,
The littlefooted children pat,
And heavy-booted men-folk clump.
But which the last may beat a shoe
On these old stones: shall I or you?
Which little boy of mine shall climb
These well-worn steps the last in time?
Which girl, childquick or womanslow,
Shall walk the last these stones in row?

FRIEND

Aye, who among us now can know
Who last shall come or go?

MAN

The road leads on below these blocks
To yonder springhead's stony cove,
And Meldon Hall and elm-tree grove,
And mill beside the foamy rocks.
And up these well-worn blocks of stone
I came when I first ran alone;
The stonen stairs beclimb'd the mound
Ere father put a foot to ground.
'Twas up the steps his father came
To make his mother change her name.

FRIEND

Aye, who can ever tell what pairs
Of feet once trod the stairs?


William Barnes



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