The Boy Crusader.

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OH father, is that Jerusalem —
Those walls and towers so strong?"
"Ho, boy, we are yet in our own fair France,
That is only Avignon."
* * * * *
"Oh father, are these the Jordan's banks?
Let us rest in those vineyards fair."
"Ho, boy, these are only the banks of the Rhone,
And we may not linger there."
* * * * *
"Oh father, I fear them — the waves! the waves!
Is Jerusalem over the sea?"
"Ay, over the sea and then over the hills —
But cling, my boy, to me."
* * * * *
"Oh father, is that Jerusalem,
Like a shell of gold in the bay?"
"Nay, it is only Palermo, boy;
And this is Saint Rosalie's day."
* * * * *
"Oh father, I feared the sea, but more
I fear this burning sand."
"Good cheer, my boy; take heart of grace;
We tread upon Holy Land."
* * * * *
"Oh father, can it be Holy Land,
With all this blood and death?"
"That was Acre we stormed, my boy;
Now let us to Nazareth."
* * * * *
"Oh father, the hills are so high — so high!
Is Jerusalem very far?"
"Hush, hush, my boy, and I'll tell you the tale.
Of the Kings who followed the Star."
"Oh father, the hills are so steep — so steep!
Will Jerusalem soon be near?"
"Boy, what had it been had you carried the cross,
Instead of your father's spear!"
* * * * *
"Oh father, I am weary and faint.
This must be Calvary!"
"Good cheer, my boy; but one hill more:
Jerusalem is nigh.
"The men-at-arms have passed the ridge.
Hark, boy, how the warriors sing!"
"I only hear the sound of harps,
And waters murmuring."
"Wake, boy, this is no time to fail!
Oh best of happy hours!
Behold at length Jerusalem —
Its gates, and domes, and towers!"
"Father, I see Jerusalem,
Ah, nearer than you deem!"
"Your eyes are closed, you see it not,
Or see it in a dream!
"Your eyes are closed, my boy, my boy!
Your face is to the West!"
"Father, I see it overhead,
And, oh, so full of rest!
"There are little children clothed in white,
And angels leading them;
There are streets of gold and gates of pearl!
At last — Jerusalem!
"And our little Marie is beckoning me,
In her hand a diadem.
Father, I must go on before:
We'll meet in Jerusalem."

© James Brunton Stephens