OPPORTUNITY


 Biographical: Edward Rowland Sill was born in Windsor Connecticut in 1841. He graduated at Yale and lived most of his life in California, being for some years professor of English language and literature at the State University. Sill was a true poet, but the whole of his literary output is contained in two slender volumes. His poems are noted for their compressed thought. The selection here given shows this quality.




    This I beheld, or dreamed it in a dream:--
    There spread a cloud of dust along a plain;
    And underneath the cloud, or in it, raged
    A furious battle, and men yelled, and swords
    Shocked upon swords and shields. A prince's banner
    Wavered, then staggered backward, hemmed by foes.
    A craven hung along the battle's edge,
    And thought, "Had I a sword of keener steel--
    That blue blade that the king's son bears,--but this
    Blunt thing--!" he snapt and flung it from his hand,
    And lowering crept away and left the field.
    Then came the king's son, wounded, sore bestead,
    And weaponless, and saw the broken sword,
    Hilt-buried in the dry and trodden sand,
    And ran and snatched it, and with battle-shout
    Lifted afresh he hewed his enemy down,
    And saved a great cause that heroic day.