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The Word of the Dust

From the Rock Island Argus, March 20, 1915. By W. D. Nesbit.

Bother to man, and to beast, and bird,
    Bother to grass and trees—
This is my saying; this is my word;
    I have been all of these.
Out of me, back of me, year by year,
    Journey the maids and men;
Treading me, tossing me there and here—
    Then to my arms again.

Look at me, laugh at me! Yet I hold
    Red of the rose’s heart,
Red of the laughing lips, that, bold
    Smile with a maiden’s art.
Helpless and void of a sign of life
    Here on the king’s highway—
Still, I have babbled of love and strife;
    I was a king one day!

Gray in the twilight, and white at dawn—
    Walk on me—me, a thing!
What have I been in the days agone?
    Beggar, and priest, and king!
I have been a flower, and brute, and bird,
    I have been maids and men.
Spurn me, and—brother, you have my word—
    We shall change place again!

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