BY OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES.

AH, here it is! the sliding rail That marks the old remembered spot, The gap that struck our schoolboy trail,

The crooked path across the lot.

It left the road by school and church: A pencilled shadow, nothing more, That parted from the silver birch And ended at the farmhouse door.

No line or compass traced its plan; With frequent bends to left or right. In aimless, wayward curves it ran,

But always kept the door in sight.

The gabled porch, with woodbine green, The broken millstone at the sill, Though many a rood might stretch between,

The truant child could see them still.

No rocks across the pathway lie,

No fallen trunk is o'er it thrown;

And yet it winds, we know not why, And turns as if for tree or stone.

Perhaps some lover trod the way, With shaking knees and leaping heart; And so it often runs astray,

With sinuous sweep or sadden start.

Or one, perchance, with clouded brain, From some unholy banquet reeled; And since, our devious steps maintain His track across the trodden field.

Nay, deem not thus: no earth-born will Could ever trace a faultless line; Our truest steps are human still, -

To walk unswerving were divine.

Truants from love, we dream of wrath; O, rather let us trust the more! Through all the wanderings of the path We still can see our Father's door!

The Crooked Footpath 778

' And yet it winds, we know not why, and turns as if for tree or stone."