I take the year back to my life and story,
The dead year, and say, “I will share in thy tomb.
‘All the kings of the nations lie in glory;’
Cased in cedar, and shut in a sacred gloom!
They reigned in their lifetime with sceptre and diadem,
But thou excellest them;
For life doth make thy grave her oratory,
And the crown is still on thy brow;
‘All the kings of the nations lie in glory,’
And so dost thou.”
LOOKING OVER A GATE AT A POOL IN A FIELD.
What change has made the pastures sweet
And reached the daisies at my feet,
And cloud that wears a golden hem?
This lovely world, the hills, the sward—
They all look fresh, as if our Lord
But yesterday had finished them.
And here’s the field with light aglow;
How fresh its boundary lime-trees show,
And how its wet leaves trembling shine!
Between their trunks come through to me
The morning sparkles of the sea
Below the level browsing line
I see the pool more clear by half
Than pools where other waters laugh
Up at the breasts of coot and rail.
There, as she passed it on her way,
I saw reflected yesterday
A maiden with a milking-pail.
There, neither slowly nor in haste,
One hand upon her slender waist,
The other lifted to her pail,
She, rosy in the morning light,
Among the water-daisies white,
Like some fair sloop appeared to sail.
Against her ankles as she trod
The lucky buttercups did nod.
I leaned upon the gate to see:
The sweet thing looked, but did not speak;
A dimple came in either cheek,
And all my heart was gone from me.
Then, as I lingered on the gate,
And she came up like coming fate,
I saw my picture in her eyes—
Clear dancing eyes, more black than sloes,
Cheeks like the mountain pink, that grows
Among white-headed majesties.
I said, “A tale was made of old
That I would fain to thee unfold;
Ah! let me—let me tell the tale.”
But high she held her comely head;
“I cannot heed it now,” she said,
“For carrying of the milking-pail.”
She laughed. What good to make ado?
I held the gate, and she came through,
And took her homeward path anon.
From the clear pool her face had fled;
It rested on my heart instead,
Reflected when the maid was gone.
With happy youth, and work content,
So sweet and stately on she went,
Right careless of the untold tale.
Each step she took I loved her more,
And followed to her dairy door
The maiden with the milking-pail.
For hearts where wakened love doth lurk,
How fine, how blest a thing is work!
For work does good when reasons fail—
Good; yet the axe at every stroke
The echo of a name awoke—
Her name is Mary Martindale.