Inscription for the Ruin of a Village Cross

Henry Alford

THE SIMPLE folk once used to throng

  These mouldering steps beneath,

And every child that passed along

  Its soft petitions breathe,

                In pious days of yore.


The workingmen at dawn of day

  Were here assembled kneeling,

And to their labor bore away

  A calm of holy feeling,

                In Christian days of yore.


Till once a stalwart company

  Of men with gloomy faces,

Unlike the men ye used to see

  In such-like holy places

                In quiet days of yore,


With savage hands pulled down the sign

  Of our Redeemer’s sorrow,

And promised in more force to join,

  And break the rest to-morrow,—

                Hating the days of yore.


But Providence from then till now

  This remnant hath befriended,

And by this shaft and time-worn steps

  The memory hath defended

                Of the good days of yore.


And still, whene’er the good and great

  On common times pass nigh me,

Though no petition they repeat,

  Nor kneel in silence by me,

                As in the days of yore;


Yet blessed thoughts upon their hearts

  From Heaven come gently stealing,

And each from this gray ruin parts

  With calmer, holier feeling,

                Blessing the days of yore.