by Nancy Hannah Hogan (1873-1905)

The parable of the Mountain

I slept: and me thought
The people of the earth
Were divided.
And between them, a Mountain,
Huge, seeming illimitable.
Yet, could I see either side,
And on the one
Beautiful homes
Set in the midst
Of wide plains and sheltered valleys
And the water glistened
And the grass was green.
Also I saw,
Healthy men and women.
And laughing children,
As God meant.
And their number was small,
And the space great.
I saw Men and women gaze anxiously
Towards the Mountain—
Gloomy, immense—
And each in turn
Go thither, bearing
Earth and stones
And place thereon.
Then would they turn
And for a space enjoy
The Land of Plenty.
Yet always return
To add to the bulk
Of the Mountain,
Which then I saw
Was the work of man
Builded from either side.
And on the other
A multitude,
Starved, crowded exceedingly.
I heard,
Vibrating, intense,
The anguished cry of a people
Who know not why they suffer.
And woven inextricably,
The thin cry
Of hungry children;
And the water was dull.
And the grass dead,
I saw no healthy man or woman,
No laughing child.
And the space was small
And the people many.
And no hope was there.
And before them
The Mountain mocking them
From Life.
And some endeavored
To climb the Mountain:
Many died,
A few succeeded;
And of these Some went down
And claimed a share Of the Fair Land,
And with the people there
Placed new earth and stones
On the Mountain.
For each one wanted
A great part
For himself,
And the Mountain
Was their security;
And I saw,
After each arrival,
Greater numbers
Building the Mountain.
And of those who climbed,
A small number
Went back and called
To the suffering toilers
For help to remove
The Mountain
Each one had helped to make.
But the toilers,
Crushed, hopeless, suffering,
With weak minds,
In weakened bodies,
Heeded not.
But unceasingly, mechanically,
With bleeding hands
And failing strength
They added Day by day,
New height and breadth
To the Mountain,
Keeping them Crowded, suffering Death in life,
And they knew not What they did.

Nancy Hogan


Nancy Hogan, The parable of the mountain (1904)