I talked with him upon the bridge,
A thin man bent and old,
“I crowned the roofs with gold,” he said’
“I crowned the roofs with gold.”
The glen had held him all his life
And it would hold him ever,
This weather-worn philosopher
Who watched with me the river.
The water, darkening at the bridge,
Flowed at its sleepy will,
And half-way up the mountain side
The oats were golden still.
He turned and watched the whole long glen
And I went with him watching.
Our eyes could strip the slates away
And I could see him thatching.
He’d lie up there the summer’s day,
His wise hands working over
The homely bundled oaten straw
That made the golden cover.
His small fork tucked the handfuls in,
Like little oat sheaves sleeping.
He’d guard them sweetly, safely, with
The sallies he’d been steeping.
And winds might blow and rain might fall,
His roof was warm and tight,
A benediction in the day,
A blessing in the night.
“The slates,” he said, “are useful things
But doleful to the view,
The glen without the thatch is not
The glen my boyhood knew.
I’d like to see the sunlight slant
Again on golden gables,
For the slates are cold as tombstones
But the straw was warm as cradles.
They paid for something more than all
The hours of work I sold –
For glory’s light in grudging fields.
I crowned the roofs with gold.”