Rosemary and Pansies by Effie Waller Smith

Rosemary and Pansies
EFFIE SMITH

BOSTON
RICHARD G. BADGER
THE GORHAM PRESS
1909

{2}
Copyright, 1909, by Effie Smith
All Rights Reserved
The Gorham Press, Boston, U. S. A.

{3}

DEDICATION

TO THE MEMORY OF MY
BROTHER MARVIN

ROSEMARY AND PANSIES

AT THE GRAVE OF ONE FORGOTTEN
In a churchyard old and still,
Where the breeze-touched branches thrill
To and fro,
Giant oak trees blend their shade
O’er a sunken grave-mound, made
Long ago.
No stone, crumbling at its head,
Bears the mossed name of the dead
Graven deep;
But a myriad blossoms’ grace
Clothes with trembling light the place
Of his sleep.
Was a young man in his strength
Laid beneath this low mound’s length,
Heeding naught?
Did a maiden’s parents wail
As they saw her, pulseless, pale,
Hither brought?
Was it else one full of days,
Who had traveled darksome ways,
And was tired,
Who looked forth unto the end,
And saw Death come as a friend
Long desired?{10}
Who it was that rests below
Not earth’s wisest now may know,
Or can tell;
But these blossoms witness bear
They who laid the sleeper there
Loved him well.
In the dust that closed him o’er
Planted they the garden store
Deemed most sweet,
Till the fragrant gleam, outspread,
Swept in beauty from his head
To his feet.
Still, in early springtime’s glow,
Guelder-roses cast their snow
O’er his rest;
Still sweet-williams breathe perfume
Where the peonies’ crimson bloom
Drapes his breast.
Passing stranger, pity not
Him who lies here, all forgot,
’Neath this earth;
Some one loved him—more can fall
To no mortal. Love is all
Life is worth.
{11}
THE SHEPHERDS’ VISION
Upon the dim Judean hills,
The shepherds watched their flock by night,
When on their unexpectant gaze
Outshone that vision of delight,
The fairest that did ever rise
To awe and gladden earthly eyes.
From no far realm those shepherds came,
Treading the pilgrim’s weary road;
Not theirs the vigil and the fast
Within the hermit’s mean abode;
’Twas at their usual task they stood,
When dawned that light of matchless good.
Not only to the sage and seer
Life’s revelation comes in grace;
Most often on the toiler true,
Who, working steadfast in his place,
Looks for the coming of God’s will,
The glorious vision shineth still.
{12}
HEREDITY
Our dead forefathers, mighty though they be,
For all their power still leave our spirits free;
Though on our paths their shadows far are thrown,
The life that each man liveth is his own.
Time stands like some schoolmaster old and stern,
And calls each human being in his turn
To write his task upon life’s blackboard space;
Death’s fingers then the finished work erase,
And the next pupil’s letters take its place.
That he who wrote before thee labored well
Concerns thee not: thy work for thee must tell;
’Tis naught to thee if others’ tasks were ill:
Thou hast thy chance and canst improve it still.
From all thy fathers’ glory and their guilt
The board for thee is clean: write what thou wilt!
{13}
THE WOOD FIRE
O giant oak, majestic, dark, and old,
A hundred summers in the woodland vast,
From the rich suns that lit thy glories past,
In thy huge trunk thou storedst warmth untold;
Now, when the drifted snows the hills enfold,
And the wild woods are shaken in the blast,
O’er this bright hearth thou sendest out at last
The long-pent sunshine that thine heart did hold.
Like thee, O noble oak-tree, I would store
From days of joy all beauty and delight,
All radiant warmth that makes life’s summer bright,
So that I may, when sunniest hours are o’er,
Still from my heart their treasured gleam outpour,
To cheer some spirit in its winter night.
{14}
A NEW YEAR’S HOPE
I dare not hope that in this dawning year
I shall accomplish all my dreams hold dear;
That I, when this year closes, shall have wrought
All the high tasks that my ambitions sought,
And that I shall be then the spirit free,
Strong, and unselfish, that I long to be.
But truly do I hope, resolve, and pray
That, as the new year passes, day by day
My footsteps, howsoever short and slow,
Shall still press forward in the path they go,
And that my eyes, uplifted evermore,
Shall look forth dauntless to the things before;
And when this new year with the old has gone,
I still may courage have to struggle on.
{15}
TO A SILVER DOLLAR
Pale coin, what various hands have you passed through
Ere you to-day within my hand were laid?
Perchance a laborer’s well-earned hire you made;
Some miser may have gloated long on you;
Perhaps some pitying hand to Want outthrew;
And, lost and won through devious tricks of trade,
You may have been, alas! the full price paid
For some poor soul that loved you past your due.
No doubt ’tis well, O imaged Liberty,
You see not where your placid face is thrust,
Nor know how far man is from being free,
Bound as he is by money’s fateful lust,
While to his anxious soul like mockery
Seem those fair, graven words: “In God we trust.”
{16}
PREPARATION
“I have no time for those things now,” we say;
“But in the future just a little way,
No longer by this ceaseless toil oppressed,
I shall have leisure then for thought and rest.
When I the debts upon my land have paid,
Or on foundations firm my business laid,
I shall take time for discourse long and sweet
With those beloved who round my hearthstone meet;
I shall take time on mornings still and cool
To seek the freshness dim of wood and pool,
Where, calmed and hallowed by great Nature’s peace,
My life from its hot cares shall find release;
I shall take time to think on destiny,
Of what I was and am and yet shall be,
Till in the hush my soul may nearer prove
To that great Soul in whom we live and move.
All this I shall do sometime but not now—
The press of business cares will not allow.”
And thus our life glides on year after year;
The promised leisure never comes more near.
Perhaps the aim on which we placed our mind
Is high, and its attainment slow to find;{17}
Or if we reach the mark that we have set,
We still would seek another, farther yet.
Thus all our youth, our strength, our time go past
Till death upon the threshold stands at last,
And back unto our Maker we must give
The life we spent preparing well to live.
{18}
GHOSTS
Upon the eve of Bosworth, it is said,
While Richard waited through the drear night’s gloom
Until wan morn the death-field should illume,
Those he had murdered came with soundless tread
To daunt his soul with prophecies of dread,
And bid him know that, gliding from the tomb,
They would fight ’gainst him in his hour of doom
Until with theirs should lie his discrowned head.
To every man, in life’s decisive hour,
Ghosts of the past do through the conflict glide,
And for him or against him wield their power;
Lost hopes and wasted days and aims that died
Rise spectral where the fateful war-clouds lower,
And their pale hands the battle shall decide.
{19}
THE RAINBOW
Love is a rainbow that appears
When heaven’s sunshine lights earth’s tears.
All varied colors of the light
Within its beauteous arch unite:
There Passion’s glowing crimson hue
Burns near Truth’s rich and deathless blue;
And Jealousy’s green lights unfold
’Mid Pleasure’s tints of flame and gold.
O dark life’s stormy sky would seem,
If love’s clear rainbow did not gleam!
{20}
HEROES
Men, for the sake of those they loved,
Have met death unafraid,
Deeming by safety of their friends
Their life’s loss well repaid.
Men have attained, by dauntless toil,
To purpose pure and high,
The darkness of their rugged ways
Lit by a loved one’s eye.
Heroes were they, yet God to them
Gave not the task most hard,
For sweet it is to live or die
When love is our reward.
The bravest soul that ever lived
Is he, unloved, unknown,
Who has chosen to walk life’s highest path,
Though he must walk alone;
Who has toiled with sure and steadfast hands
Through all his lonely days,
Unhelped by Love’s sweet services,
Uncheered by Love’s sweet praise;{21}
Who, by no earthly honors crowned,
Kinglike has lived and died,
Giving his best to life, though life
To him her best denied.
THE RECOMPENSE
O ancient ocean, with what courage stern
Thy tides, since time began, have sought to gain
The luring moon, toward which they rise in vain,
Yet daily to their futile aim return.
Like thee do glorious human spirits yearn
And strive and fail and strive and fail again
Some starlike aspiration to attain,
Some light that ever shall above them burn.
Yet truly shall their recompense abide
To all who strive, although unreached their goal:
The ceaseless surgings of the ocean tide
Do cleanse the mighty waters which they roll,
And the high dreams in which it vainly sighed
Make pure the deeps of the aspiring soul.
{22}
THE TEST
“He fears not death, and therefore he is brave”—
How common yet how childish is the thought,
As if death were the hardest battle fought,
And earth held naught more dreadful than the grave!
In life, not death, doth lie the brave soul’s test,
For life demandeth purpose long and sure,
The strength to strive, the patience to endure;
Death calls for one brief struggle, then gives rest.
Through our fleet years then let us do our part
With willing arm, clear brain, and steady nerve;
In death’s dark hour no spirit true will swerve,
If he have lived his life with dauntless heart.
{23}
TO A DEAD BABY
Pale little feet, grown quiet ere they could run
One step in life’s strange journey; sweet lips chilled
To silence ere they prattled; small hands stilled
Before one stroke of life’s long toil was done;
Uncreased white brows that laurels might have won,
Yet leave their spacious promise unfulfilled—
O baby dead, I cannot think God willed
Your life should end when it had scarce begun!
If no man died till his long life should leave
All hopes and aims fulfilled, until his feet
Had trod all paths where men rejoice or grieve,
I might have doubt of future life more sweet;
But as I look on you, I must believe
There is a heaven that makes this earth complete.
{24}
THANKSGIVING
Our Father, whose unchanging love
Gives soil and sun and rain,
We thank Thee that the seeds we sowed
Were planted not in vain,
But that Thy hand the year hath crowned
With wealth of fruits and grain.
But more we thank Thee for the hope
Which hath our solace been,
That when the harvests of our lives
Have all been gathered in,
Our weary hearts and toil-worn hands
Thy welcoming smile shall win.
We thank Thee for the cheerful board
At which fond faces meet,
And for the human loves that make
Our transient years so sweet;
We thank Thee most for hopes of heaven
Where love shall be complete.
Though on some dear, remembered face
No more the hearth lights shine,
We thank Thee that the friends we loved
Are kept by love divine,
And though they pass beyond our gaze,
They do not pass from Thine.{25}
If at the harvest feast no more
Our words and smiles shall blend,
We thank Thee that, though sundered far,
Our steps still homeward tend,
And that our Father’s open door
Awaits us at the end.
UNDER ROOFS
Between us and the starred vasts overhead
Broad-builded roofs we spread,
Thus shutting from our view the wonders high
Of the clear midnight sky;
Yet all our roofs make not more faint or far
One ray of one dim star.
Our souls build o’er them roofs of dread and doubt,
And think they shut God out;
Yet all the while, remembering though forgot,
That vast Love, changing not,
Abides, and, spite of all our faithless fear,
Shines nevermore less near.
{26}
FOREVER
We sigh for human love, from which
A whim or chance shall sever,
And leave unsought the love of God,
Though God’s love lasts forever.
We seek earth’s peace in things that pass
Like foam upon the river,
While, steadfast as the stars on high,
God’s peace abides forever.
Man’s help, for which we yearn, gives way,
As trees in storm-winds quiver,
But, mightier than all human need,
God’s help remains forever.
Turn unto Thee our wavering hearts,
O Thou who failest never;
Give us Thy love and Thy great peace,
And be our Help forever!
{27}
IF CHRIST SHOULD COME
If Christ should come to my store to-day,
What would he think, what would he say?
If his eyes on my opened ledgers were laid,
Would they meet a record of unfair trade,
And see that, lured by the love of pelf,
For a trivial price I had sold myself?
Or would he the stainless record behold
Of perfect integrity, richer than gold?
If Christ should come to my school-room to-day,
What would he think, what would he say?
Would he find me giving the self-same care
To stupid and poor as to rich and fair,
And striving, unmindful of praise or blame,
Through tedious tasks to a lofty aim,
Guiding small feet as they forward plod
In paths of duty that lead to God?
If Christ should come to my workshop to-day,
What would he think, what would he say?
Would his eye, as it glanced my work along,
See that all its parts were stanch and strong,
Closely fitted, firm-welded, and good,
Of flawless steel and of unwarped wood,
As sound as I trust my soul shall be
When tried by the test of eternity?{28}
If Christ should come to my kitchen to-day,
What would he think, what would he say?
Would he find me with blithesome and grateful heart
And hands well-skilled in the housewife’s art,
Bearing sordid cares with a spirit sweet,
And making the lowliest tasks complete?
Cometh he not, who of old did say,
“Lo, I am with you, my friends, alway”?
O thought that our weary hearts must thrill,
In our toilsome ways he is present still!
At counter and forge, in office and field,
He stands, to no mortal eye revealed.
Ah, if we only could realize
That ever those gentle yet searching eyes
Gaze on our work with approval or blame,
Our slipshod lives would not be the same!
For, thrilled by the gaze of the unseen Guest,
In our daily toil we would do our best.
{29}
GIFTS
Myrrh and frankincense and gold—
Thus the ancient story told—
When the seers found Him they sought,
To the wondrous babe they brought.
Let us—ours the selfsame quest—
Bear unto the Christ our best.
If to him, as to our King,
We the gift of gold would bring,
Be it royal offering!
Gold unstained by stealth or greed,
Gold outflung to all earth’s need,
That hath softened human woe—
Helped the helpless, raised the low.
Frankincense for him is meet,
Yet no Orient odors sweet
Are to him as fragrant gift
As white thoughts to God uplift,
And a life that soars sublime,
Sweet above ill scents of time.
Last, from out the Magians’ store,
Myrrh, as for one dead, they bore;
While, perchance, their lifted eyes
Viewed afar the Sacrifice.{30}
Let us to the sepulcher
Bring a richer gift than myrrh:
Love that will not yield to dread
When all human hopes have fled;
Faith that falters not nor quails
When the waning earth-light fails,
Saying, “Shall I be afraid
Of the dark where Thou wast laid?”
BENEFACTION
If thou the lives of men wouldst bless,
Live thine own life in faithfulness;
Thine own hard task, if made complete,
Shall render others’ toil more sweet;
Thy grief, if bravely thou endure,
Shall give men’s sorrow solace sure;
Thy peril, if met undismayed,
Shall make the fearful less afraid.
Each step in right paths firmly trod
Shall break some thorn or crush some clod,
Making the way more smooth and free
For him who treads it after thee.
{31}
HISTORIC GROUND
No song lends these calm vales a deathless name;
No hero, to a nation’s honors grown,
Claims as his birthplace these rude hills unknown;
No pomp of hostile armies ever came,
Marring these fields with storied blood and flame;
And yet the darkest tragedies of time,
Of love and death the mysteries sublime
Have thrilled this tranquil spot, unmarked of fame.
Here the long conflict between good and ill
Has been fought out to shame or victory,
Darkly and madly as in scenes renowned.
Ah, though unnamed in human records, still
Within the annals of eternity
This place obscure is true historic ground!
{32}
A MOUNTAIN GRAVEYARD
What a sleeping-place is here!
O vast mountain, grim and drear,
Though, throughout their life’s hard round,
To thy sons, in long toil bound,
Thou from stony hill and field
Didst a scanty sustenance yield,
Surely thou art kinder now!
Here, beneath the gray cliff’s brow,
Sleep they in the hemlocks’ gloom,
And no king has prouder tomb.
Far above the clustered mounds,
Through the trees the faint wind sounds,
Waking in each dusky leaf
Sobs of immemorial grief;
And while silent years pass by,
Dark boughs lifted toward the sky
Like wild arms appealing toss,
As if they were mad with loss,
And with human hearts did share
Grief’s long protest and despair.
No tall marbles, gleaming white,
Here reflect the softened light;
Yet beside the hillocks green
Rude, uncarven stones are seen,
Brought there from the mountain side
By the mourners’ love and pride.{33}
There, too, scattered o’er the grass
Of the graves, are bits of glass
That with white shells mingled lie.
Smile not, ye who pass them by,
For the love that placed them there
Deemed that they were things most fair.
Now, when from their souls at last
Life’s long paltriness has passed,
The unending strife for bread
That has stunted heart and head,
These tired toilers may forget
All earth’s trivial care and fret.
Haply death may give them more
Than they ever dreamed before,
And may recompense them quite
For all lack of life’s delight;
Death may to their gaze unbar
Summits vaster, loftier far
Than the blue peaks that surround
This still-shadowed burial ground.
{34}
AFTER THE LAST LESSON
How wonderful he seems to me,
Now that the lessons are all read,
And, smiling through the stillness dim,
The child I taught lies dead!
I was his teacher yesterday—
Now, could his silent lips unclose,
What lessons might he teach to me
Of the vast truth he knows!
Last week he bent his anxious brows
O’er maps with puzzling Poles and Zone;
Now he, perchance, knows more than all
The scientists have known.
“Death humbleth all”—ah, say not so!
The man we scorn, the child we teach
Death in a moment places far
Past all earth’s lore can reach.
Death bringeth men unto their own!
He tears aside Life’s thin disguise,
And man’s true greatness, all unknown,
Stands clear before our eyes.
{35}
THE ROAD TO CHURCH
Rutted by wheels and scarred by hoofs
And by rude footsteps trod,
The old road winds through glimmering woods
Unto the house of God.
How many feet, assembling here
From each diverse abode,
Led by how many different aims,
Have walked this shadowy road!
How many sounds of woe and mirth
Have thrilled these green woods dim—
The funeral’s slow and solemn tramp,
The wedding’s joyous hymn.
Full oft, amid the gloom and glow
Through which the highway bends,
I watch the meeting streams of life,
Whose mingled current tends
Toward where, beyond the rock-strewn hill,
Against the dusky pines
That rise above the churchyard graves,
The white spire soars and shines.{36}
Here pass bowed men, with blanching locks,
World-weary, faint, and old,
Mourning the ways of reckless youths
Far-wandering from the fold.
There totter women, frail and meek,
Of dim but gentle eyes,
Whom heaven’s love has made most kind,
Earth’s hardships made most wise.
Apart, two lovers walk together,
With words and glances fond,
So happy now they scarce can feel
The need of bliss beyond.
Gaunt-limbed, his shoulders stooped with toil,
His forehead seamed with care,
Adown the road the farm hand stalks
With awed and awkward air.
The sermon glimmers in his mind,
Its truths half understood,
And yet from prayer and hymn he gains
A shadowy dream of good
That sanctifies the offering
His bare life daily makes—
His tender love for wife and child,
And toil borne for their sakes.{37}
Thus through the bleakness and the bloom,
O’er snows and freshening grass,
Devout, profane, grief-worn or gay,
The thronged church-goers pass,
Till, one by one, they each and all,
Their earthly journeyings o’er,
Move silent down that well-known road
Which they shall walk no more.
{38}
THE PATCHWORK QUILT
In an ancient window seat,
Where the breeze of morning beat
’Gainst her face, demure and sweet,
Sat a girl of long ago,
With her sunny head bent low
Where her fingers flitted white
Through a maze of patchwork bright.
Wondrous hues the rare quilt bears!
All the clothes the household wears
By their fragments may be traced
In that bright mosaic placed;
Pieces given by friend and neighbor,
Blended by her curious labor
With the grandame’s gown of gray,
And the silken bonnet gay
That the baby’s head hath crowned,
In the quaint design are found.
Did she aught suspect or dream,
As she sewed each dainty seam,
That a haunted thing she wrought?
That each linsey scrap was fraught
With some tender memory,
Which, in distant years to be,
Would lost hopes and loves recall,
When her eyes should on it fall?{39}
Years have passed, and with their grace
Gentler made her gentle face;
Brilliant still the fabrics shine
Of the quilt’s antique design,
As she folds it, soft and warm,
Round a fair child’s sleeping form.
Lustrous is her lifted gaze
As with half-voiced words she prays
That the bright head on that quilt
May not bow in shame or guilt,
And the little feet below
Darksome paths may never know.
Yet again the morning shines
On the patch-work’s squares and lines;
Dull and dim its colors show,
But more dim the eyes that glow,
Wandering with a dreamy glance
O’er the ancient quilt’s expanse;
Worn its textures are and frayed,
But the hands upon them laid,
Creased with toils of many a year,
Still more worn and old appear.
But what hands, long-loved and dead,
Do those faded fingers, spread
O’er those faded fabrics, meet
In reunion fond and sweet!{40}
What past scenes of tenderness
And of joy that none may guess,
Called back by the patchwork old,
Do those darkening eyes behold!
Lo, the deathless past comes near!
From the silence whisper clear
Long-hushed tones, and, changing not,
Forms and faces unforgot
In their old-time grace and bloom
Shine from out the deepening gloom.
{41}
MY BROTHER

(1882-1903)
Dead! and he has died so young.
Silent lips, with song unsung,
Still hands, with the field untilled,
Lofty purpose unfulfilled.
Was that life so incomplete?
Strong heart, that no more shall beat,
Ardent brain and glorious eye,
That seemed meant for tasks so high,
But now moulder back to earth,
Were you all then nothing worth?
Could the death-dew and the dark
Quench that soul’s unflickering spark?
Are its aims, so high and just,
All entombed here in the dust?
O, we trust God shall unfold
More than earthly eyes behold,
And that they whose years were fleet
Find life’s promises complete,
Where, in lands no gaze hath met,
Those we grieve for love us yet!
{42}
IN FULLER MEASURE
“Dying so young, how much he missed!” they said,
While his unbreathing sleep they wept around;
“If he had lived, Fame surely would have crowned
With wreath of fadeless green his kingly head;
The clear glance of his burning eyes had read
Wisdom’s dim secrets, hoary and profound;
While his life’s path would have been holy ground,
Made thus by all men’s love upon it shed.”
Doubtless could he have spoken for whom that rain
Of teardrops fell, “How strange your sad words are!”
He would have said; “In fuller measure far
All that life gave to me I still retain;
Love have I now which no dark longings mar,
Fame void of strife, and wisdom free from pain.”
{43}
OCTOBER
O sweetest month, that pourest from full hands
The golden bounty of rich harvest lands!
O saddest month, that bearest with thy breath
The crimson leaves to drifts of glowing death!
In fields and lives, the fall of withered leaves
Darkens the glorious season of ripe sheaves,
For Life’s fruition comes with loss and pain,
And Death alone can bring the richest gain.
{44}
BENIGNANT DEATH
Thanking God for life and light,
Strength and joyous breath,
Should we not, with reverent lips,
Thank Him, too, for death?
When would man’s injustice cease,
Did not stern Death bring
Those who cheated and oppressed
To their reckoning?
Would not life’s long sordidness
On our spirits pall,
If our years should last forever,
And the earth were all?
On us, withered with life’s heat,
Falls death’s cooling dew,
And our parched souls’ dusty leaves
Their lost green renew.
Ah, though deep the grave-dust hide
Love and courage high,
Life a paltrier thing would be
If we could not die!
{45}
THE UNRETURNING
If our dead could come back to us,
Who so desire it,
And be as they were before,
Would we require it?
Would we bid them share again
Our weakness, foregoing
All their higher blessedness
Of being and knowing?
For them the triumph is won,
The fight completed;
Do we wish that the doubtful strife
Should be repeated?
Would we call them from the calm
Of all assurance
To the perils that might prove
Past their endurance?
God is kind, since He will not heed
Our bitter yearning,
And the gates of heaven are shut
’Gainst all returning.
{46}
WHEN A HUNDRED YEARS HAVE PASSED
When a hundred years have passed,
What shall then be left at last
Of us and the deeds we wrought?
Shall there be remaining aught
Save green graves in churchyards old,
Names o’ergrown with moss and mold,
From the worn stones half effaced,
And from human hearts erased?
When a hundred years have fled,
Will it matter how we sped
In the conflicts of to-day,
Which side took we in the fray,
If we dared or if we quailed,
If we nobly won or failed?
It will matter! If, too weak
For the right to strike or speak,
We in virtue’s cause are dumb,
Some soul in far years to come
Shall have darker strife with vice,
Weakened by our cowardice.
Every struggle that we make,
Every valiant stand we take
In a righteous cause forlorn,
Shall give strength to hearts unborn.{47}
When a hundred years have gone,
Darkness and oblivion
Shall our ended lives obscure,
But their influence shall endure.
Other eyes shall be upraised
To the hills on which we gazed,
And the paths o’er which we plod
Shall by other feet be trod,
While our names shall be forgot;
Yet, although they know it not,
Those who live then, none the less,
We shall sadden or shall bless.
They shall bear our boon or curse,
They shall better be or worse,
As we who shall then lie still,
Have lived nobly or lived ill.
{48}
FALLEN LEAVES
Beneath the frost-stripped forest boughs, the drifted leaves are spread,
Vanished all summer’s green delight, all autumn’s glory fled.
Yet, gathering strength from that dead host, the tree in some far spring
Shall toward the skies a denser growth, a darker foliage fling.
Ah, if some power from us, long dead, should strengthen life to be,
We need not grieve to lie forgot, like sere leaves ’neath the tree!
{49}
DECEMBER SNOW
The falling snow a stainless veil doth cast
Upon the relics of the dying year—
Dead leaves and withered flowers and stubble sere—
As if it would erase the faded past;
So on our lives does death descend at last,
Hiding youth’s hopes and manhood’s purpose clear,
And memories faint, to dreaming age most dear,
Beneath its silence, blank and white and vast.
The sun shines out, and lo! the meadows lone
Flash into sudden splendor, strangely bright,
More fair than summer landscape ever shone;
Thus, gleaming through the storm clouds, faith’s clear light
Transforms death’s endless waste of silence white
To beauty passing all that life has known.
{50}
TRUST
I came, I go, at His behest,
So, fearing not and not distressed,
I pass unto that life unguessed.
Little the babe, at its first cry,
Knows of the scenes that near it lie;
Less still of that dim life know I.
But Love receives the babe to earth,
Soft hands give welcome at its birth;
And so I think, when I go forth,
There too shall wait, to cheer and bless,
Love, warm as mother’s first caress,
Strong as a father’s tenderness.
{51}
TOWARD SUNRISE
When, in old days, our fathers came
To bury low their dead,
Unto the far-off eastern sky
They turned the narrow bed.
They laid the sleeper on his couch
With firm and simple faith
That cloudless morn would surely come
To end the night of death;
And thus they sought to place him where,
When life’s clear sun should rise,
Its earliest rays might wakening fall
Across his close-sealed eyes.
Like a faint fragrance lingering on
Throughout unnumbered years,
Still in our country burial-grounds
The custom sweet appears;
Still, when the light of life from eyes
Beloved is withdrawn,
The sleepers’ dreamless beds are made
Facing the looked-for dawn.
There, as the seasons pass, they seem
Serenely to await
The certain radiance of that Morn
That cometh soon or late.
{52}
GOOD NIGHT
Dear earth, I am going away to-night
From your long-loved hills and your meadows bright;
I know I should miss you when I am dead
If a better world came not in your stead.
For the sweet, long days in your woodlands spent,
And your starry dusks, I shall not lament;
For greater than all the wonders you show,
O earth, is the secret I soon shall know.
Good night! And now as I fall asleep
I give you the garment I wore to keep;
You will hold it safely till morning dawn
And I rise from my slumber to put it on.