The Grain Tribute

There came an officer knocking by night at my door
In a loud voice demanding grain-tribute.
My house-servants dared not wait till the morning,
But brought candles and set them on the barn-floor.
Passed through the sieve, clean-washed as pearls,
A whole cart-load, thirty bushels of grain.
But still they cry that it is not paid in full:
With whips and curses they goad my servants and boys.
Once, in error, I entered public life;
I am inwardly ashamed that my talents were not sufficient.
In succession I occupied four official posts;
For doing nothing—ten years’ salary!
Often have I heard that saying of ancient men
That “good and ill follow in an endless chain.”
And to-day it ought to set my heart at rest
To return to others the corn in my great barn.

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