Smith, Effie Waller
|SONGS OF THE MONTHS.|
|"ONLY A DRUNKARD."|
"Only a drunkard!" said my friend,
As piteous glances I cast
At a bestial form by the roadside,
While onward we slowly passed.
"Only a drunkard!" yes, 'twas true,
Only a drunkard was he;
A pitiable burlesque of all that God
Had created him to be.
His breath came hard and guttural,
And his reddened eyes were closed;
From between his lips besmeared with dust
Slime poison slowly oozed.
What heaven-born impulse shall ever light
Those eyes with rapture and love,
And teach those slobbering lips to sing
Te Deums with power from above?
And shall lift that soul on wings of fire
To worship at heaven's shrine;
Shall make him a messenger of God,
Holy, Christ-like and divine?
And say, has this poor, beastly drunkard
A mother, a sister or wife,
Who have grieved, and still are grieving
Over his sad and ruined life?
Say, do the tear-filled wife-eyes,--
Sad eyes in which the light
Of hope has long been faded away,--
Do they watch for him to-night?
Ah, yes, there are always eyes to watch,
And hearts to suffer always;
Always some woman's tender heart
To love him from day to day.
For as long as time and sin shall last,
While pride to shame is akin,
So long shall woman go with man,
In his revels of shame and sin.
And with her own slender hands shall lift
His head from the miry clay;
On her own frail shoulders his burden
Of weakness and misery lay.
Perhaps that face, now so sodden,
In the bygone days of old
Once peopled her maiden hours with joy,
With fancies and dreams untold.
That fallen head had a kingly poise,
Those eyes now bleared and red
Once looked love to her love-bright eyes,--
But alas, those days have fled!
There was a time when those drooping lips
Kissed her lips, her cheek, her brow,
Kind words they were only wont to speak,
But oaths and curses now.
There once were days when those hands, those arms,
(But those days are gone, are dead)
Caressed the delicate form of her,--
Now they give her blows instead.
"Only a drunkard" to-night he lays,
A lost ideal he is,
A sad, a wasted, a blighted life,
And a ruined home is his.
O, the heartaches and the failures
She suffers every day!
O, the awful shame and misery
Hid from the world away!
O, woman, divine and heroic,
So like the ivy vine,
Whose slender tendrils caressful
'Round the fallen oak entwine.