FROM their folded mates they wander far,
Their ways seem harsh and wild:
They follow the beck of a baleful star,
Their paths are dream-beguiled.
Yet haply they sought but a wider range,
Some loftier mountain slope,
And little recked of the country strange
Beyond the gates of hope.
And haply a bell with a luring call
Summoned their feet to tread
Midst the cruel rocks, where the deep pitfall
And the lurking snare are spread.
Maybe, in spite of their tameless days
Of outcast liberty,
They ’re sick at heart for the homely ways
Where their gathered brothers be.
And oft at night, when the plains fall dark
And the hills loom large and dim,
For the shepherd’s voice they mutely hark,
And their souls go out to him.
Meanwhile, “Black sheep! black sheep!” we cry,
Safe in the inner fold;
And maybe they hear, and wonder why,
And marvel, out in the cold.
Richard Francis Burton