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William Allingham
1824 - 1889 


A man there came, whence none could tell,

Bearing a Touchstone in his hand;

And tested all things in the land

By its unerring spell.

Quick birth of transformation smote

The fair to foul, the foul to fair;

Purple nor ermine did he spare,

Nor scorn the dusty coat.

Of heirloom jewels, prized so much,

Were many changed to chips and clods;

And even statues of the Gods

Crumbled beneath its touch.

Then angrily the people cried ---

"The loss outweighs the profit far:

Our goods suffice us as they are, ---

We will not have them tried."

And since they could not so avail

To check his unrelenting quest,

They seized him, saying  --- " Let him test

How real is our jail ! "

But though they slew him with the sword,

And in a fire his Touchstone burn'd,

Its doings could not be o'erturn'd,

Its undoings restored.

And when, to stop all future harm,

They strew'd its ashes on the breeze,

They little guess'd each grain of these

Convy'd the perfect charm.


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