Rain and roses by Jeannette Fraser Henshall

Rain and Roses

By

JEANNETTE FRASER HENSHALL

To My Daughter

Beulah

1923
THE STRATFORD CO., Publishers
Boston, Massachusetts

Copyright, 1923
The STRATFORD CO., Publishers
Boston, Mass.

The Alpine Press, Boston, Mass., U. S. A.

Contents

Page
Inadequate 1
Old Masonry 2
Hymn of Adoration 4
Sweet Distress 5
The Chastening 6
The Four Winds of Heaven 8
Friend 9
Humility 10
Shadows 11
Two Roads 12
The Reason 14
When June Comes 15
Through Loving Eyes 17
Worship 18
Evermore 20
A City Guest 22
Reminders 24
Soul 25
Farewell 26
Rainbow Ribbons 28
My Neighbor’s Roses 30
The Long Twilight 31
A Lone Walk 33
A Death Blow 35
The Breath of Life 36
A Day in Spring 38
Autumn 39
Little Girl 40
My Old House and The Weather 42
Blue Stone River, W. Va. 44
Sea Hunger 46
Tree Sounds 47
A Wish 48
Middle Creek, W. Va. 49
Endie 50
In Our Old Street 52
Honey 54
Moon Dazzle 55
To Friends 56
To a Meadow Lark 57
Broken Numbers 58
I’m Going Out 60
Ingleside 62
Friendship 63
This Year 65
Spring Walkers 66
Winter Woods 68
Brother O’ Mine 71
Dream 73
Shine and Shower 75
Lines to Death 76
To the New Year 78
Homesickness 80
To Love 81
Your Friend 82
Draw Close to the Fire 83
What Love Is 84

{1}

Inadequate

FRIEND of my heart when you’re away
I fashion for my tongue,
A thousand things to say to you
But dear heart when you come,
How needless is my well formed phrase,
And my care chosen words,
Take swift and sudden flight away,
Like small wind-riven birds.
And with you here, my full glad heart
Can only say, you’ve come.
For all your touching, pleading ways
But serve to make me dumb.
{2}

Old Masonry

LONG, long ago in our old street
Back from the busy road,
An old deserted stone house stood
Breaking beneath its load.
Such ruin that remained of peaks
Stood out against the skies.
And the memory of old things
Looked from behind its eyes.
In summer time this dead old house
Set in its flowery space.
One likened to a stranger
In a much too friendly place.
In winter time its creaking frame
With all its falling beams,
Was like a sea rocked sailor
Grown weary of his dreams.
It leaned a little westward.
And now I think it knew,
And was waiting other voices
It long had listened to.{3}
Once I was part of this old ruin
When I myself were young.
Out of pity I must leave you
And half the song unsung.
{4}

Hymn of Adoration

IAM grown weary for new scenes
But not of human make.
But O! for hills and long green fields,
A splintered, glittering lake.
This day I am an intimate
With sky and bird and tree.
With budding boughs and turbulent streams
And God’s immensity.
I am enamored with fresh days
Drenched with rain and sun.
The tho’t of thine omnipotence
O! God has made me dumb.
Thy goodness is so wide, a thing
Beat, for me slower time.
I cannot sing so great a song
In one short life like mine.
{5}

Sweet Distress

IHAVE known the beauty
Of a firegold west.
And from the hurt in rainsong
I shall never rest.
I heard the water running
From a green hill’s crest,
But what is sweet in sorrow
Hearts remember best.
{6}

The Chastening

ISEE thee now thine innocence
Writ on thy soul’s clear skies.
Thy laughter loving mouth
Thy love provoking eyes.
I mark thy soft girl fairness
Thy strong young body’s grace,
The woman soul that I have nursed
Dawning behind thy face.
I note with fear thy heedless
And unchided turbulence.
Unfaltering faith in life and love
Thine air of confidence.
And then I see as seers might see
Even as one’s own God.
Thy straight, slim youthfulness
Bend to the chastening rod.
I writhe to think I may not bear
The blows, for thine own sake
I can not, tho’ ’tis mine to know
How one small heart can ache.{7}
In the winds of thy fierce breaking
God grant I never see
Thy flashing spirit sullen,
Or thy lips in mutiny.
But rather child, I’d have thee know
Even as I the rod,
As a tuning fork to bring thy song
Back to the harp of God.
{8}

The Four Winds of Heaven

WHEN I hear the north wind
It never fails to bring,
Reminders of for-get-me-nots
And sunny days in spring.
And O! the east wind carries
Upon its scented sail,
The tho’t of pink arbutus
In some secluded vale.
And how I’d like to gather
When winds are in the west,
A brace of orange blossoms
To hold against my breast.
But O! I love the south wind
That breathes across the loam,
For O! the tender south wind
Just whispers dear “come home!”
{9}

Friend

LAST night when I was watching shadows lengthen
From twilight into deeper, darker lines,
The lazy river caught my little boat dear,
And swept it in among the clinging vines.
And somehow in the mirror of the current
I saw your kindly face look back at me.
Then I reached my eager hands toward you
As one would do to friends across the sea.
Friend O! mine, don’t think that I’ve forgotten,
Tho’ parted now by many a weary mile.
In every little pool I see reflected,
Your eyes forever tender with a smile
And someday when GOD calls me from my dreaming
And draws me from life’s loneliness apart,
I’ll carry all these things that I remember—
About you, up to heaven in my heart.
{10}

Humility

IHAVE come a long way
Over sea and sod.
I found nothing small as me,
Nothing great as GOD.
God has in his keeping
Eternities of time.
He hears worlds of trouble
But, gives ear to mine.
He sways stars and planets,
“Keeps the keys of death.”
But in his loving kindness
Paused to give me breath.
I have seen a mountain
Sweet flowers, a bird, a tree.
God has lovely children
Dare he look on me?
{11}

Shadows

ISAT with dreams and mated them with shadows
Where sunlight flecked the grass and trickled thru
Each swaying twig and branch of spruce and elder
Adoringly, they somehow spoke of you.
I sat tense-eyed, my longing vision sensing,
An unseen, art-wise hand begin to trace.
With all love’s magic trickery displaying
To me; your hair, your pallid waiting face.
In all these voiceless years of night and grieving
Above thy grave I grasp this gleam of grace.
Perhaps sometime, where is no pain or parting
I’ll smile again into your waiting face.
{12}

Two Roads

THERE are two roads near Joppa town
And here I doubting stood,
For one went winding round the hill
The other thru the wood.
And if I took the winding road
’Twould lead me thru the mall,
Of noise and gossipers for which
I have no heart at all.
Sweet briar nodded from the hill,
The blue bells from the shade.
A purple finch decided me,
So in the wood I stayed.
A brooding bird and restless young,
Began to chide and fret.
And wonder in bird fashion what
I ever came to get.
A green snake ran across my path
Its eyes were jewel small.
A flying squirrel left a tree,
That seemed ten paces tall.{13}
I picked a fern that had uncurled
Itself from out the ground.
And O! the wood delighted me,
The way it stood around.
And there were holy moments when
My very soul went still.
And sad I was for folks who took
The road around the hill.
And when I left the sancted place,
My arms were loaded down.
It cost me not one pang to shun,
The road to Joppa town.
{14}

The Reason

WHEN I was but a little girl
Mere flotsam on life’s sea,
Because of youth a lovely rose
Meant, just a rose to me.
Before I knew that love was life,
And life were all of love.
The sky was only atmosphere
And God frowned up above.
But now I am a woman grown
And know love tenderly,
I can not tell you dear how much
God’s roses mean to me.
{15}

When June Comes

WHEN June comes back again I’ll sit
Away back from the road and dip
My face and arms in clover blooms,
And drink my fill of their perfumes,
And steep myself in one great gleam
Of sunlight, and I’ll dream,
And dream,
And dream.
I’ll lean back in the grass and sigh
And look love at the blue, blue sky.
Until my senses reel and reel,
Like elm tree branches and a feel—
Of drowsiness oozes between,
My eyelids, while I dream,
And dream,
And dream.
A lethargy binds tongue and lips,
And creeps down to my fingertips.
Troubles, cares and everything,
Float out past my remembering.{16}
And all the world is one great beam
Of gladness, while I dream,
And dream,
And dream.
{17}

Through Loving Eyes

LIKE a careless child in the drifts it stood
Against the darkness of the wood,
Even the path was not cut through
Up to the door it led you to.
Beauty untarnished, but never a sound
Save for the whispering trees around.
Its shining eyes on the cold world shone
Warm and bright from its snowy comb.
Cheer was the word the blue fume wrote
As it cleared itself from the chimney’s throat.
The drifts that lay on the tent like sheds
Were like the covers of untouched beds.
A great white garment of snow and frost
Was laid on the fence, but the hedge was lost.
A-while away the home garden park
Divides itself from the woods soft dark.
Dear God I said, you had meant to please
When giving man such gifts as these.
{18}

Worship

IDID not always know ’twas kind
Of thee to let me pass,
And with my sacrilegious feet
Walk lightly thru thy grass.
How could I know, when I was young
’Twas one of thine own dreams,
To tender me the license of
Thy hills and singing streams.
How could’st thou take even a part
Of thy remotest time,
And weld me, poor unworthly link,
Into this chain of thine.
One day I learned at cost of pain
Among the shadows dim,
Thy gift of violets, Oh! God
Their fragrance cutting in.
I set apart one hallowed day
Forever dear to me.
Because thou taughtest me to love
A flowering apple tree.{19}
And since I’ve older grown and drawn
To solitudes apart,
I find I cannot tell the Lord
All that is in my heart.
{20}

Evermore

Then I go on from here I’ll take
The ever pleasant memory of a lake.
I’ll tightly lock within my spirit breast
The picture of a grim old mountain’s crest.
A little stream’s song running ever clear
And all the lonely places I hold dear.
A mocking bird, a drenched and dripping tree.
O! I shall keep my hunger for the sea.
I shall keep my knowledge of the paths I know
The gates of many mornings and the glow,
Of sunset, on a firegold window pane,
The mist on young nasturtiums after rain.
Virginia creeper on some quaint old garden wall
The sound of dropping nuts, I’ll take them all.
The falling leaves, the closing of the year,
I’ll not forget, tho’ I go on from here.
These tho’ts I shall retain (e’en past the gates of death),
Of burnished autumn leaves, a tiny baby’s breath.{21}
In my heart I’ll take the Heaven’s most untried height
A moon drowned flower, from some star riven night.
I shall remember thru great ages of GOD’S time
The wind in clover, rain in summer time.
Think you I could forget, thru death’s wild fret and pain
The look of slim young birches in the rain?
{22}

A City Guest

THE wonder never went out of her eyes
When she saw the sweep of our wide blue skies,
The things we farmers forget in the pain
Of sowing and planting and reaping again.
Things taken for granted loose the touch
Of newness and dazzle we love so much.
While she, soft-eyed and with shining face,
Found pleasure in all things about the place.
She gathered the flowers in wind and rain
That we called common and tho’t real plain.
From the sweep of our lawn to the poppy bed
Flaunting their colors about her head.
Till we ourselves looked with glad new eyes
On an old, old setting, but a new sunrise.
Cold grey days she would rise and sing
For she found beauty in everything.
Will she ever know in the city street
How we think of her when the snow and sleet,
Make houses enjoyable things to own,
How often we mention her name at home?{23}
Can she ever know with her warm flower heart,
How she gave us back what we lost in part.
How the thought of her when it’s cold with rain,
Fills the house and the halls, with herself again.
{24}

Reminders

THE sun, the wind, and rain
The trees, the flowers and skies,
A grosbeak’s note
From its flaming throat
And my bosom is tossed with sighs.
Eyebeams and locks of hair
The curve of a white cheek near,
Each day of the week
Filled full of the sweet
Reminders of you, my dear.
The crowd and the city street,
A hill that is bleak and bare.
A fleecy cloud
Floating high and proud
And I think of my darling’s hair.
A voice that is strangely like
Your own that I turn to see;
A silvery laugh,
Convincing me half
My dreams have been fooling me.
{25}

Soul

BECAUSE,
There never was a voice on earth
Could soothe its harrowings,
That’s why these souls God gave to us
Are always lonely things.
Because,
Life is so short, and death so sure,
And worlds uncertain things,
And time so fleet and heaven so high
Souls have such restless wings.
Because,
’Twas fashioned in the heavenly realm
Of God’s creative schemes,
That’s why a soul goes hungrily
From dream to shining dream.
{26}

Farewell

WHEN you are twining wreaths of rose and columbine
To soften outlines of a tomb too new,
Remember, spring makes little tents all green and cool
For soldier boys this old world never knew.
When spring comes tripping down the lane once more
And children bring you violets of blue,
When your tender heart is strained, beyond the breaking
Let this be my farewell, dear heart, to you.
When spring comes romping, singing, back again,
Dressed in her garments fragrant, fresh and new;
When once more robins sing among the budding trees
All honey sweet, with apple blooms and dew.{27}
When you have searched the woods as once you did
For specimens of moss and long, dank fern,
Remember, that I too have loved the flowers
But, look no more, no more for my return.
{28}

Rainbow Ribbons

BRING me rainbow ribbons
And a band of blue,
Bring me threads of silver
From the moonbeams’ hue.
Bring a pure cloud fleecy,
Snatch a sunbeam bright,
Tints from twilight evenings,
Matchless and just right,
To mate with all her beauty.
These amassed will make the dreams
Tender, pure and holy
Of a girl just turned thirteen.
Bring me rainbow ribbons
From the sunset too
Then a white tho’t from the angels
Who are holding hands with you.
Bring the rosebud’s fragrance
And the apple blossom’s bloom
The hushed voice from the morning
Then leave a little room,{29}
For a thousand transient colors
From a God’s infinite dream
And you’ll have the soul and fancies
Of a girl just turned thirteen.
{30}

My Neighbor’s Roses

MY neighbor’s roses always grow
In such a tantalizing row,
Of fragrance and perfume,
A riotous mass of twilight bloom.
And I am tempted oftentimes
When walking where the stray ones climb,
To reach my willing hands out so
And clasp each crimson, flaming glow.
A breeze steals softly thru the day
And brushes them too far away.
Christ! make me kind enough to give
Of roses while my friends yet live.
And if they reach their eager hands,
To where my flowers with clinging bands,
Are nodding, tempting, from the row.
Oh! Christ I pray let breezes blow
A thousand fragrant, tender charms
Into my neighbor’s outstretched arms.
Then keep my burning heart and tho’t,
Tender enough to stay them not.
{31}

The Long Twilight

WHEN “Pop” is bald, and my hair is white,
And the stage is set, for a long twilight;
When we are alone in our little den
He with his pipe and I with my pen,
’Twill not be regrets that make us sigh
For we will have things that the world can’t buy.
For we have snatched from the mirth mad throng
A little of love and a deathless song.
A few glad dreams and our tho’ts all white,
The silence of God, in the long twilight.
When “Pop” is bald and my hair is white,
And we’re nearing the end of the long twilight,
’Twill not seem cold in the darksome wood
For we have been friends with solitude.
And often yearned in the shadows cold
For the friendly smiles the gods withold.
Hearts all the braver for the feel of pain,
For a rose grows sweeter every time it rains.{32}
A few glad notes from a comrade’s song
We’ll sing in the night as we go along.
For we carry the blossoms a frost ne’er blights
And we’ll have no morning till we’ve said goodnight.
{33}

A Lone Walk

WHEN I had left the city street
And lost the open road,
I breathed contentedly and deep
As one who shifts a load.
I wasn’t caring where I went
Or where I meant to go.
But I was tossing from my path
The brown leaves drifted so.
When I was wondering aimlessly
Just what my quest would bring.
I saw a pink arbutus bloom
And heard a warbler sing.
The sky seemed blue and higher here
Than it was back in town.
And Oh! the wind delighted me,
The way it blew around.
And then I sought the grey glen road.
Went with it thru the wood.
And in its long green isles I walked
And worshipfully stood.{34}
My neighbor questioned from the fence
What I had seen out there?
I said I sought adventure
And I found it everywhere.
{35}

A Death Blow

HE said goodbye, you hobbled out,
The Doctor shut the door.
From your face I knew he’d told you
Things we had guessed before.
I saw you slightly tremble
But I reached you ere you fell.
Your fixèd face said many things
More than you cared to tell.
One does not receive death warrants
As one would a courtesy.
After awhile your head went up
And you talked it all out with me.
Brave little woman I knew you
Knew you were never afraid.
Not for yourself, You forbid me—
To speak and my questions you staid.
All I could give was silence.
Your pride forbade me much.
Tho’ I longed to bear your burden
Even to be your crutch.
{36}

The Breath of Life

I’D like to lift the threads of life
And weave them on a loom
And make a pattern beautiful,
As any day in June.
I’d put ten thousand violets
And shimmering leaves of green,
Around the edge and over it,
To hide each vulgar seam.
Because, death brushed me with dark wings,
Reluctant passed me by,
I take the threads of life again
And weave and smile and sigh.
But if I had a God-like power
Omnipotence of mind,
To put the tho’t of suffering
And death a league behind.
Life would be violets to me
Much sweeter than a dream.
The pattern on my loom would show
No raw and ghastly seam.{37}
But then methinks it is because
Of what the looms disclose.
The breath of life is sweeter
Than the fragrance of a rose.
{38}

A Day in Spring

GO slow, O! day immaculate;
Much slower than the rest.
Master of time, mark every hour
As tho’ thou were not pressed,—
Or hurried. But more leisurely
And gently let them chime.
Oh! morn, take off thy wings of speed
And let this day be mine.
O! day, immaculate and kind,
Make no rude haste or speed.
But loiter in less trodden paths
Walk lightly o’er the mead.
Spring and I are holding hands
On a green hill’s dazzling crest.
Make this day, God, go very slow
More slowly than the rest.
{39}

Autumn

ISEE you now, your autumn gown
In wanton fashion hung,
Your crimson scarf half rakishly,
To trifling breezes flung.
I was distressed and sad to think
You did not even care.
But once your harp sang low and sweet
You breathed a solemn prayer.
You sang soft broken numbers
Sad as your soul’s distress,
And I loved you no matter how wanton
Or scarlet or scanty your dress.
{40}

Little Girl

FROM out the calendar of time
Grant me one glorious day.
And let me follow singing streams,
So cool with tossing spray.
And riot in their pebbled beds
Where willows bend and swirl
Their giddy heads, as once they did
When I was, “little girl.”
And let me feel again the clutch
One gets down in the throat
From long admiring, silent things
Faint sounds and clouds afloat.
Let afternoon slip languidly,
Tree branches bend and twirl
Adoringly: as once they did
When I was “little girl.”
Give me one riotous unbound day
To climb a dizzy hill.
Waist deep in laurel, where wood birds
Gyrate and mock and trill.{41}
Where even timid walkers’ steps
Unloose great rocks that hurl,
Delightedly, to depths I feared
When I was “little girl.”
Grant me one free unbounded day
Wherein I may explore,
The land where dream folks’ houses shed
Moon dazzle from the door.
Oh! riotous day detain my steps
Clasp me from this mist whirl
And let me live the dreams I dreamed
When I was “little girl.”
{42}

My Old House and the Weather

IGROW so very weary
Of the city’s crowded street
The babbling of voices
The restlessness of feet.
I often wish my friends would talk
Less dexterous and less clever,
And let me say a word about
My old house and the weather.
I long to stop those restless feet
And if I only could,
I’d still their babbling tongues awhile
With back-home quietude.
I long to let them know about
Birches that stand together,
And the hand that threw the blooms around
My old house and the weather.
But as it is I only take
Mere twigs of it to town,
The lilacs when they’re on the bush
And roses tumbling round.{43}
But folks forget so hurriedly
And talk of fuss and feather,
I think they’d best come out and
My old house and the weather.
{44}

Bluestone River, W. Va.

SOMETIME in my day dreaming
Thru’ my half-lidded eyes,
I’m seeing old Virginia
And Old Virginia skies.
The narrow, crooked roadway,
The path by which we came,
And then I see the river,
Bluestone river, in the rain.
Then there’s the drooping willows
Swaying, swirling, side by side.
And the hollyhocks keep nodding
To each other in the tide.
And the mists we love o’ mornings
Puts our dropping tears to shame.
When we see it clear the river,
Bluestone river, in the rain.
And there’s the little homestead
Just across the running stream,
It beckons from the mountain
Like a kind hand in a dream.{45}
A soft, mellow light is breaking
From each golden window pane,
And it shines down on the river,
Bluestone river, in the rain.
{46}

Sea Hunger

I’VE languished under many moons
And loved them all. Ah me!
But now my heart is filled too full
Of hunger for the sea.
When thinking of the white gulls
That ride the creamy foam,
I almost hear the brave winds
O’er singing seas at home.
And when I think of white mists
That rise from shore to shore,
In utter weariness I weep
But cannot see them more.
And some day when I leave my dreams
These tides in which I’ve striven,
I’ll lock their memories in my breast
And carry them to heaven.
{47}

Tree Sounds

THE forest closed and folded
About me like a tent.
The tree tops swayed and toppled
Rain riven and wind-rent.
The old harp in the pine trees
Struck cords minor and deep.
So in the storm tossed forest
I was rocked to sleep.
That was long ago, O’ ages,
Yet thru these rushing years,
The sounds of a wind rent forest
Is ever in my ears.
{48}

A Wish

THEY called me girl, gave me the name
Of one I’ll never see.
I wish they’d given me instead
The name of some nice tree.
A tree that rocks with every wind,
Fast rooted in the ground,
Straining its eager branches up
To where God’s looking down.
A neighbor to the grass and flowers.
A friend to all the skies,
A lovely tree that dares to romp
With every bird that flies.
A spruce, an elm, a tamarack;
Dear heaven, how can there be
A lovelier name, and how I wish
They’d given one to me.
{49}

Middle Creek, W. Va.

IHAVE a longing for a hill
A passion for small streams.
And there’s a creek that winds itself
Among my muted dreams.
A tumbling stream, you know the kind,
With water running clear,
Where birds might bathe between its songs
And pilgrims hover near.
It twines itself, love-fashion, round
A flowering tree, then worms—
And oozes in between the roots,
Of sycamores and ferns.
Petals float down and mingle with
Ribbons of grass while I
Am conscious that I am dreaming,
And writing while I sigh.
{50}

Endie

ILIKE to visit Endie’s house
She’s like a dream herself,
She has the books I know and love
Upon her reading shelf.
And when I go to her we talk
About the clouds and wind,
And if I drop from clouds to clods
Why; Endie doesn’t mind.
I like the streams, the singing ones,
But Endie likes a fall;
And if I disagee with her
She doesn’t mind at all.
Endie has a thousand things
To plant in one small space;
When I find it can’t be done
Regret is in her face.
She often says O! dare we plant,
Narcissus in a row?
But she agrees and I agree
Where hollyhocks should grow.
I only need to mention tea
And Endie’s soft eyes shine.{51}
And then she talks; her language flows
More eloquent than mine.
Once ambition burned my breast
Endie, too, was fired.
But here is where I stop to rest
For Endie’s getting tired.
{52}

In Our Old Street

WE children played in a queer old street
That persistently seemed to hide,
Itself and us in a kindly way
From the great wide world outside.
And how we loved in our childishness
God’s work on the sea and land.
But death was secretive, dark and deep,
And never showed us his hand.
With awe we gazed on his work, sad work
And the flutter of ribbons white,
Made us all catch hands, hold our breath and sob
In our restless dreams at night.
When a baby came to our queer old street
So downy and vague and new,
We tiptoed out of the soft, dark room,
And the mystery grew and grew.
But many things we have learned since then
For life has a strange sad way,{53}
We left the hills and the queer old street
Where we used to shout and play.
One of the things we have learned is this:
Tho’ death rides around rough shod,
Back of our births and our deaths and our loves
Is the all-kind heart of GOD.
{54}

Honey

HIS eyes were wide and large and bright
As shining drops of dew,
In which two violets had drowned
Themselves and made them blue.
His lips were O! so soft to kiss
His smile was quaint and funny;
Couldn’t think of any name
To call him only Honey.
No one ever tho’t that I
Was his sister Sue.
For my eyes were just as black
As his eyes were blue.
And my hair was like a crow
His so golden sunny.
Father ridicules the name
But keeps on saying Honey.
{55}

Moon Dazzle

LAST night, as tho’ with new washed eyes
I looked upon a lake.
Something within me sharply stirred
An understanding ache.
An ardent willow swayed and dipped
The cool depths of lagoon.
Unstirred miles of grass and dew
Lay lonely to the moon.
It seemed I’d never seen a night
Or such a scene before.
The moonbeams stretched a splintered path
From shore to shadowed shore.
I marveled thus, and wondered how
In unveiled hours to come,
Could such a pulseless thing like death
Make one so eager, dumb.
{56}

To Friends

LAST night, when I was wearied to my soul,
I was slipping out to dreamland very fast.
When I tho’t about you, and the things you did,
The help you gave, for which I did not ask.
Your unselfishness and kind deeds true,
Kept coming up before me like a scroll.
I could not count the many things you did,
For me, when I was sick, in body and in soul.
My undeserving self grew very, very tired.
With all the counting of them, and I slept.
But, ’twas just to dream again of all these things,
And in my restless sleep, I wept, and wept, and wept.
{57}

To a Meadow Lark

AND when I saw him stamping over
My little patch of shrubs and clover,
His steel bright gun held shoulder high
I scarce could check, a smothered cry.
Because I knew your nest was low
So shuddered when I saw him go.
A gunshot and I scarce could see
You had flown screaming to a tree.
O little bird with troubled breast,
A miracle has saved your nest.
I’m sorry you were frightened so,
You should not build your nest so low.
{58}

Broken Numbers

AMYSTERY puzzled and vexed me,
Unsolvable, strange and deep.
Perplexed and worn out in spirit
It followed me into my sleep.
Then with eyes that were heavy with dreaming
I drifted from darkness to dawn.
For the raindrops scattered my shadows
With numbers of broken song.
I thought of the heavy mystery
That troubled me yesterday,
It seemed I never could solve it
Or drive it completely away.
And I thought of the thousands of moments
When each, to oneself stands alone,
Thrown back on oneself for the answer
The answer that never comes home.
As I pondered each sad broken number
The raindrops made on the pane,
The shine came to me, came in bundles,
For I heard the song in the rain.{59}
Shine is a guest we have often
Grief being seldom is great.
I have no quarrel with mystery
I have no quarrel with fate.
{60}

I’m Going Out

I’M going out where breezes blowing round
Make trim kept acres look half country and half town.
Where March winds tossed and blew the leaves away
Into the fences corner yesterday.
Oaks that never dropt last summer’s leaves at all
Were coaxed at last today to leave them fall.
I’m going out to this street’s very end,
Where city atmosphere and country spaces blend,
And hear the whirring wings of lonely larks,
That circle like burnt embers o’er the park.
I’ll have my hair in torrents blowing wild
About my pallid features like some child,
That had its romping days of childish fun
Most strangled e’er they ever had begun.
I’d like to walk around a field that’s barr’d
From other pleasant places winter scarr’d.
Where drifts have filled the corners there I know
Is still a faint suggestion of late snow.{61}
So when your luncheon hour and mine comes round,
I will have gone beyond the edge of town.
{62}

Ingleside

THE road that goes to Ingleside
Can’t be described at all,
’Tis sweet beyond the telling
And the trees are paces tall.
Spring o’ year at Ingleside
Is pungent sweet of breath.
And for its rainfilled, tumbling streams
I’m homesick unto death.
Confusing flowers fill the wood
Like nodding plumes of flame.
The like of which one’s never seen
And no one knows the name.
The hills that look on Ingleside
Are emerald to the brow.
And I would give a thousand dreams
If I could see them now.
{63}

Friendship

ONCE on a time there was a road
Went winding by my door.
And fain I was to travel it
In search of golden store.
And O! how oft with heavy heart
The weary miles I trod,
And many a sorry tale I learned
Upon the open road.
Often times I was made glad
And oft my heart was sore.
For folk who traveled on the road
That winded by my door.
Adventure came, aye many a time,
And even now I sigh.
And sorry am to count the times
The false gods caught my eye.
But now I keep a little spot
Just off the busy road,
And there I patient, wise-eyed wait
Those of the heavy load.{64}
And kindly then I draw them in
While warm heart talks to heart.
And when night darkens I have found
We’re sorry for to part.
This happened too once on a time
When I was weak and sore.
I drew a jewel from the road
That winded by my door.
But then I very often find
Two roads so different meet,
And many a friend I’ve found and kept
For whom I did not seek.
{65}

This Year

THIS year’s breezes gently toss
A fern uncurling from the moss;
Arbutus trailing lengths along;
Brown thrush thrilling with his song.
The grosbeak sings a song of cheer,
“Ain’t” things beautiful this year?
The dandelions are here again
Amongst the grass like golden rain.
A hawthorn raining petals white,
Whilst dripping with the dews of night.
A mocker’s notes, round, sweet and clear.
“Ain’t” things beautiful this year?
So thankful that old winter’s gone
Fond hearts beat a tender song.
The meadow lark in circles high,
Sings songs of faith against the sky.
While in my heart I greatly fear,
Things are too beautiful this year.
{66}

Spring Walkers

ISN’T there just a hint in the air
That spring’s hiding out in the garden somewhere?
Remember the place where the violets grew?
Let’s all go and see if they’ve been stirring too.
That sounded like wings, O! look it’s a bird.
How did he know that the mosses had stirred.
Before we can really think it is spring
He’s here on his faith, and started to sing.
Someone’s been here, the leaves have been tossed
As if one were looking for things that were lost.
And ruthlessly left to the late April snow
The pale slender necks of the first buds below.
Let’s cover them up, it doesn’t seem fair
To leave them like this, see that birch over there?
We’ll remember the place and come back again,
When the sun is some warmer, and there’s been a rain.
Let’s walk thru the wood, and come back this way
I dislike to go home, I wish it were May.{67}
Here’s a place I adore, this tender dark wood.
It’s a source of delight, and if one only could
Just come here and visit awhile every day,
’Twould charm every heartache one has quite away.
This path has surprises at every bend.
This log has been here since I can’t tell you when.
We just walk around or climb over this way,
’Twould spoil the whole scene if they took it away.
This tree has been tired standing up long ago
’Twas March, the old roughneck, gave it the last blow.
It looks like a man-contrived arch o’er a drive,
The vines will cling round it and keep it alive.
I’m tired. Let’s go back, we’ve come a long way
I dislike to go home, I wish it were May.
{68}

Winter Woods

WOULD you like to walk to Elm Court
Now that winter’s here?
Yes it is a little chilly,
But you’ll like it, never fear.
I’d like to see that little path,
The one you sketched, you know,
After last night’s storm it surely
Must be rimmed around with snow.
The grey grouse slept I’m certain
Beneath the patches white,
The hills protrude a dazzling crest
Into the dawn’s cold light.
If attempts were made to climb
Up to its softened blue,
Every time we stepped up one
We’d slip back more than two.
But now, we’ll just go thru this woods
And this deep snow, my dear,
Will make a worth while picture
For it’s beautiful this year.
Let us plow thru this deep snow drift
To that small half frozen stream,{69}
We’ll see nicer ferns I’ll wager
Than a summer’s ever seen.
Ferns in winter? yes there’s plenty.
Will you only just look here
How frost fashions from plain water
Things so beautiful and queer.
Wait awhile! here’s beauty,
This stream bank’s frozen dirt
Boasts an edge as sweet and dainty
As a lady’s underskirt.
In summer this is lovely
But old winter has its charms
When these tender little trees stand round
With ice clothes on their arms.
It’s very quiet, but lonely never,
You can push these twigs apart
And in the softened stillness
Almost feel and hear God’s heart.
And one may feel this darkness
Like soft velvet one unrolls,
Its very quiet is soothing,
To a city weary soul.
See these bushes! all the edges
Have a perfect picot hem,
Like women’s restless fingers
Had picked up now and then.{70}
We must find the pathway back
When the sun comes stealing thru,
Like old magic, all these wonders
Will be dripping from our view.
I prefer to keep this picture
Just as we have seen it here,
This lovely morning, to my fancy
Is too beautiful, I fear.
{71}

Brother O’ Mine

DO you remember the cardinal’s call,
Brother O’ mine?
The hills that we climbed, be they ever so tall,
With never a fear for a hurt or a fall,
Wondering ever if skies did fall,
Brother O’ mine.
Many a hill we’ve climbed since then,
Brother O’ mine.
Been pelted with roses and rinsed with the rain
Of our sorrowing teardrops time and again;
Despair in our hearts and a clutch of pain,
Brother O’ mine.
And there were pebbles that hurt our feet
Brother O’ mine.
But the dust of the highway seemed velvet sweet
Tho’ many a cross and trials we’d meet,
With daisies and graves at our very feet,
Brother O’ mine.{72}
Father we had in the bygone days,
Brother O’ mine.
And mother to wipe all our tears away.
Tho’ sodden the sky, and shadows be grey
God will speak clear of the mist some day,
Brother O’ mine.
{73}

Dream

THE flowers upon my lady’s hat,
Kept bobbing so this way then that,
Until the Church seemed faint and blurred
The morning Psalms I scarcely heard.
Unless I see I cannot hear,
So, I just admired that flower so near.
’Twas unlike any bloom that blows
On trees or waves in garden rows,
Where clings the morning glory vine
Or beds of phlox or columbine,
Like nothing in the drowsy south
With love songs oozing from its mouth,
In all the languorous, summer noons
Or riotous breaths of all perfumes,
Like nothing in my garden bed
Of flowers washed blue or drenched red;
Peculiarly designed it sat
And nodded on my lady’s hat.
I summoned all my powers to wit
But could not find a name for it.
I sought my couch with troubled breast,
I could not from my memory wrest{74}
The name of that tormenting bloom,
Till wearied tossing, then I swooned
Into forgetfulness and dreamed
Of lands beyond where sunlight streamed,
In gardens where an angel talked
In soft glad whispers as he walked.
And touched each blossoming bud and bell
With pride and love ineffable.
But one he loved beyond compare;
He stooped and kissed the petals rare.
With eagerness I did persist
To see the flower the angel kissed.
And there it grew a thing intact,
The flower upon my lady’s hat.
It stood a straight slim tossing flame
And I had yet to learn its name.
With this in mind I tried to talk,
But the angel only sped his walk.
I could have cried for very shame,
Then someone called me by my name.
The room was pink with morning light,
Because dreams vanish with the night;
And things are not what they seem,
I called the little flower “dream.”
{75}

Shine and Shower

IT’S the cross that makes the triumph
A glorious thing to share,
It’s the sweet behind the bitter
Makes the burden light to bear.
It’s the shine past all the raining
Of the heart-break and the tear,
It’s the faith in dim tomorrow’s
Clears the mist from yesteryears.
So I’ll take my shine and shower
The bitter with the sweet,
And I’ll make a friend of sorrow
Every time we chance to meet.
Give me triumph with disaster
And my share of gain and loss
And I’ll not be asking angels
For a sweeter, gentler cross.
{76}

Lines to Death

THE harp like strings of destiny
Stretched taut awhile, then broke,
So life gives o’er the battle
To death’s relentless stroke.
What’s wealth with all its glitter
When the sands of life are spent?
It cannot unfold the curtain
Of that solitary tent.
Fame is just a tempting bauble
That comes when least we call,
And fate stands thus dividing
Rain and roses ’mongst us all.
Life is just a few short summers,
Breath of roses and a prayer.
Then a little tent to sleep in
When we grow too tired to care.
The high, the low, the haughty,
The humble, too, meet here.
And share like common brothers
The sorrow and the tear.{77}
But life must have its raining
For the master wills it so;
And broken harps are mended,
After death has struck the blow.
{78}

To the New Year

THIS morning when I saw you
Looking into my bedroom window,
I thought that I disliked you very much,
For all I could see
You very much resembled other days
Spotless and so wholesome,
With all your tinsel bright,
But, your beauty touched me not at all.
But I decided to put up with you
As one would with strange, unwelcome guests.
I turned you around and about many, many times,
As a child would a new toy.
You were a lovely sight,
And yet I felt a bit depressed,
Till of a sudden I thought
I saw you smile.
Or was it only fancy?
Then I gave you my profoundest thought
For a short while.
And way down in your remotest depths
Great possibilities looked out at me,{79}
And I thought of all the things you might do
For this restless world.
So I fell in love with you,
Before you were a half hour old.
{80}

Homesickness

THE folks whom we visit, but once in a while
Those friends who are far, far away,
May be thoughtful and generous indeed to a fault
And kindness itself every day.
Not even the hills with the mist on the top
And the sun shooting flames ’cross the loam,
Can make me forget, nor still the wild fret
In my heart for the place I call home.
The valleys like Eden are misty and deep:
They are washed with the dews of the morn.
They but serve to depress me and make me a prey
To longings both sad and forlorn.
The lilt of the trees and the song of the birds
Once so cheery have sobered their tone,
For my heartstrings are tied, to a little fireside
In a place that I love to call home.
{81}

To Love

THO’ I am slow of speech, it matters not,
For this I know you feel and understand.
Tho’ break I at your nearness, yet I draw apart,
With wonder at the touches of your hand.
Your eager eyes, so near my drooping lids
Appraise my flushes, and you understand
How fain I am to go, yet do draw near,
And tremble at the touches of your hands.
Tho’ death should come and seal my eyelids shut,
And tho’ I tremble at his cold commands,
I could be drawn away e’en from the tomb, methinks
If then, dear, you would touch me with your hands.
{82}

Your Friend

THO’ you’re a heathen to the core
And cause him untold pain,
He knows everything about you
But loves you just the same.
You need not always seek him
For he’s often seeking you.
He has a welcome for the stranger
But a warmer heart for you.
He is rather scarce on talking
But at listening he is good.
You love to be around him
But respect his solicitude.
He is tactful of your failings,
Well acquainted with your whim;
And there’s nothing in this wide, wide world
You would not do for him.
{83}

Draw Closer to the Fire

THE summer sweets have faded,
The hedge, the vine, and briar,
Come, put your hand in mine, my friend,
Draw closer to the fire.
From footstools let us view the heights
To which great minds aspire;
Here’s Riley, Keats and Emerson,
Draw closer to the fire.
A brave refrain from unknown bards
And Byron’s brave satire,
Frank Stanton’s tears and tenderness,
Draw closer to the fire.
Tho’ cold the winds and fierce the blast,
And thwarted our heart’s desire,
We’ve Robert Frost to cheer the hearth,
Draw closer to the fire.
Give me your hand, my steadfast friend;
The words that friends require
Stay with me thru the dying year,
Draw closer to the fire.
{84}

What Love Is

LOVE is a magnetism
That enables two people
To see one another as
No one else can see them,
A compelling unresisting element
Drawing them into each other’s arms.
Love is an unselfish devotion,
Giving service without reward,
Sacrifice without compensation,
Suffering without alleviation.
It is a power, a force,
The fundamental principle of life,
Without which, the mere act of living
Becomes a farce and a mockery.
Love is the foundation of every
Unselfish act, in this grey old world.
It is the rosy amber hearthstone
Of earth’s flaming paradise, and
A stepping stone to a better world called heaven.