Lesson in Spring
Who places credence in the tomb
And bows too long in grief,
Must argue with the clover-bloom
And contradict the leaf.
And play until the ebb-tide backward wells,
Leaving the lonely sand in silence, deep,
Save for the captured music of the shells.
Thus long ago, my children came to me,
And stayed until life bade them to depart,
Yet still upon the sands of memory
Their vanished laughter lingers in my heart.
Here lies my friend. Be kind to her, oh sun.
Be gentle to her, earth; protect her, trees.
Let there be space in heaven where she may run,
This little dog who only lived to please.
This canvas, Life, on which I work,
I cannot leave, I dare not shirk,
For someone cries: "It is your lot
To finish what I finished not!"
With brushes dipped in dreams and fire
I labor for a vanished sire!
When I would make a fair design,
Pure of hue and true of line,
The Past draws near and jars my hand.
O, why I cannot understand.
Yet once upon a morning, dim,
I heard the wings of seraphim.
An unseen hand propelled my own,
And on my canvas wonder shone!
Another's wisdom guided me,
And I was more than I could be!
My children! You who from my toil
Shall take the brushes and the oil,
O, make the colors fair and pure,
That where I failed, you may endure.
The night is trembling with the summer stir
Of wind that whispers in the beach and fir.
From every bough the wistful whisper grieves
Or dreams aloud in syllables of leaves.
The wind remembers well. All Time is in its sigh
Grave Homer speaks as lightly it goes by;
And Sappho sings . . . I wonder if my grief
Will one day be the whisper of a leaf.
In every old and weathered tree
(So ancient myths declare)
A dryad sings incessantly,
Forever young and fair.
So, even so, long years depart
And bowed by them am I;
Yet sings a dryad in my heart
And will until I die.
The Tree of Heaven
(an Easter Ballad)
The trees flung up their branches
And in the dark they cried:
On one of us long, long ago,
The Lord was crucified!"
A weeping sapling murmured:
"Alas, how can I grow?
On one of us the Savior died.
I would I did not know!"
Then lo, as darkness vanished
And dawn came up like flame,
A Voice consoled the forest
And comforted its shame.
"Blame not, O trees, your brother,
For this I say to you:
The tree that was to be the cross
Knew not for what it grew.
"It loved the sun, the starlight;
It sheltered nesting birds.
Its boughs were stirred with music,
It sang with leaves for words.
"Then came that grievous morning --
The day men did the Wrong.
They stripped me of my garments,
The tree, of leaf and song.
"I died. I rose to heaven
Where cherubim shone bright
And stood in dazzled wonder
Before the Glory Light.
"And while the angels gathered
To welcome me and sing,
I bade the tree to Paradise
And God's eternal spring:
"Beneath its boughs the cherubs
New-come to Heaven play
Until their eyes, grown stronger,
Can bear the Glory Ray.
"So harken, tossing branches!
Let every tree adore
The Cross that is the symbol
Of love forevermore."
Then cried the little sapling:
"Sing out that all is well.
Ye twinkle-footed rivers,
Run `round the earth and tell.
"Rejoice, rejoice, my brothers!
Come praise with windy lute
The Tree that bore the Savior.
(O blest and piteous fruit!)
Praise, praise the Tree of Heaven,
Nor let one leaf be mute!"
Upon this pool are mirrored leaf and frond.
The stars so wan, so luminous and high
Look calmly down upon the pensive pond
Whereon their shadows tremulously lie.
My dazzled eyes are thrilled and wonder-caught
As silently earth's fairest troth is wrought:
The mystic marriage of the pool and sky.
Why came I to this water, silver-blue,
Which gleams with beauty borrowed from afar?
I came . . . I came in restless search of you --
Only to find how close to me you are!
As pool and heaven meet though worlds apart,
We meet, for on the waters of my heart
Your image lies as on the pool, the star.
The dusk grows deeper. Daylight's eyelids close.
A bird unseen begins his evening hymn.
Compatible to hues of gold and rose,
The pool is filled with brightness to its brim.
And now as twilight fades and night appears,
I feel you near and kneel to lave my tears
In chaliced starlight at the water's rim.
Deep darkness grows. I turn at last to leave,
Pursued by memories I can't forget.
I do not stay to meditate or grieve.
I am at peace although my eyes are wet.
For I have learned that like the pool am I--
The pool which faithful to the distant sky,
Still glows with gold although the sun has set.
"The Pool" won first prize from The National Penwomen's Association for the best religious poem.