Patrick Regan has kindly shared the material from his Robert Buchanan site with readers of the Victorian Web, who may wish to consult the original.

        'How long, O Lord, how long?'

                            

                            I.

Now poor Tom Dunstan's cold,
       Our shop is duller;
Scarce a tale is told,
And our talk has lost its old
       Red-republican colour!
Though he was sickly and thin,
       'Twas a sight to see his face, —
While, sick of the country's sin,
With bang of the fist, and chin
       Thrust out, he argued the case!
He prophesied men should be free!
       And the money-bags be bled!
'She's coming, she's coming!' said he;
'Courage, boys! wait and see!
       Freedom's ahead!'

                                                 

                            II.

All day we sat in the heat,
       Like spiders spinning,
Stitching full fine and fleet,
While old Moses on his seat
       Sat greasily grinning;
And here Tom said his say,
       And prophesied Tyranny's death;
And the tallow burned all day,
And we stitch'd and stitch'd away
       In the thick smoke of our breath.
Weary, weary were we,
       Our hearts as heavy as lead;
But 'Patience! she's coming!' said he;
'Courage, boys! wait and see!
       Freedom's ahead!'

                                                 

                            III.

And at night, when we took here
       The rest allowed to us,
The Paper came, with the beer,
And Tom read, sharp and clear,
       The news out loud to us;
And then, in his witty way,
       He threw the jests about:
The cutting things he'd say
Of the wealthy and the gay!
       How he turn'd 'em inside out!
And it made our breath more free
       To hearken to what he said —
'She's coming! she's coming!' said he;
'Courage, boys! wait and see!
Freedom's ahead!'

                                                 

                            IV.

But grim Jack Hart, with a sneer,
       Would mutter, 'Master!
If Freedom means to appear,
I think she might step here
       A little faster!'
Then, 'twas fine to see Tom flame,
       And argue, and prove, and preach,
Till Jack was silent for shame, —
Or a fit of coughing came
       O' sudden, to spoil Tom's speech.
Ah! Tom had the eyes to see
       When Tyranny should be sped:
'She's coming! she's coming!' said he
'Courage, boys! wait and see!
       Freedom's ahead!'

                            V.

But Tom was little and weak,
       The hard hours shook him;
Hollower grew his cheek,
And when he began to speak
       The coughing took him.
Ere long the cheery sound
       Of his chat among us ceased,
And we made a purse, all round,
       That he might not starve, at least.
His pain was sorry to see,
       Yet there, on his poor sick-bed,
'She's coming, in spite of me!
Courage, and wait!' cried he;
       'Freedom's ahead!'

                                                 

                            VI.

A little before he died,
       To see his passion!
'Bring me a Paper!' he cried,
And then to study it tried,
       In his old sharp fashion;
And with eyeballs glittering,
       His look on me he bent,
And said that savage thing
       Of the Lords o' the Parliament.
Then, dying, smiling on me,
'What matter if one be dead?
She s coming at last!' said he;
'Courage boy! wait and see;
Freedom's ahead!'

                                                 

                      VII.

Ay, now Tom Dunstan's cold,
The shop feels duller;
Scarce a tale is told,
And our talk has lost the old
       Red-republican colour.
But we see a figure gray,
       And we hear a voice of death,
And the tallow burns all day,
And we stitch and stitch away
       In the thick smoke of our breath;
Ay, while in the dark sit we,
       Tom seems to call from the dead —
'She's coming! she's coming!' says he;
'Courage, boys! wait and see!
       Freedom's ahead!'

                     __________

How long, O Lord! how long
       Must thy Handmaid linger —
She who shall right the wrong,
Make the poor sufferer strong?
       Sweet morrow, bring her!
Hasten her over the sea,
       O Lord! ere Hope be fled!
Bring her to men and to me! . . .
O Slave, pray still on thy knee,
       'FREEDOM's ahead!'

                      ***

(From London Poems, 1866-70)


Victorian Web Robert Buchanan Contents

Last modified 26 September 2002