The Toll-gate Man

Original Text: 
Wilson MacDonald, Out of the Wilderness (Ottawa: Graphic Publishers, 1926): 119-21.
1They tore down the toll-gate
2    By the songless mill,
3But the gray gate-man
4    Takes toll there still;
5And he takes from all
6    Whether or not they will.
7Few people see him,
8    With his moonlit hair,
9Taking with ghost palms
10    The old, slim fare.
11But the whole night long
12    He waits sadly there.
13In winter on the snow
14    I can hear his shoes
15Crunching me welcome,
16    Crunching me adieus:
17But wherever he goes
18    He leaves no clews.
19Strange coin I pay him,
20    Minted in my soul--
21Tears I caught long ago
22    In a silver bowl,
23Sighings for a lost love:
24    These I pay for toll.
25Strangely does his hand come
26    Out of the thin wind,
27And strangely is the night air
28    About his shoulders pinned.
29So white his hair is you would think
30    His soul had never sinned.
31The fool goes by him,
32    In a blazing car,
33Sighing: "How lonely
34    These crossroads are.."
35But the old gate-man
36    Will follow him far.
37Follow him until he pays
38    As men paid of old;
39But not with cold silver
40    And not with warm gold,
41But with that treasure
42    Which is life to hold.
43On dark, wet nights
44    In the slanting rain
45The gate-man bends
46    With an old, old pain;
47But on warm, clear nights
48    He grows straight again.
49They tore down the toll-gate
50    By the songless mill,
51But the gray gate-man
52    Takes toll there still;
53You can see his moonlit hair
54    From the next far hill.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire / Sharine Leung
RPO Edition: