Adullam

By George Sterling

David therefore departed from thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam...
And everyone that was in distress, and everyone that
was in debt, and everyone that was discontented,
gathered themselves unto him—I  Samuel, XXII, 1-2.


'Twas long ago in Palestine that others of our kind Foregathered in their misery, to speak each one his mind; And though he spoke in common speech, uncertain and uncouth, Yet king and priest and usurer had heard the living truth. 'Tis true that they were wastrel, and careless of the law— As gaunt a band of ne'er-do-wells as Tophet ever saw; But there the word that mattered most came innocent of art, As comrade spoke to comrade all that clamored in the heart. From valleys fat with culture of barley, fig, and grape, In grief or debt or fury had each one made escape, To find the outlaw freedom to start his life again, And plan for sad Judea and new and juster reign. The horsemen of the oppressor the mountains will not house; The stupid and the cowardly remained at home to drowse: From cities of the lowland only the fearless went, And spirits of rebellion filled those ranks of discontent. The servile towns below them buzzed with their disrepute, Yet what they wrought when time was ripe was no tongues of men confute. Though each one left his kindred to seek the Cave alone, He fought among the men that put King David on his throne. It well may be they quarreled, each boastful of his craft, And he who bragged the loudest may well have been most daft; But still, despite contention, the soul, whate'er it hate, Is safer in Adullam than in the street called Straight!

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