In strong blast of October
At the equinox,
Stirred up in his hollow bed
Broad ocean rocks;
Plunge the ships on his bosom,
Leaps and plunges the foam,—
It’s oh! for mothers’ sons at sea,
That they were safe at home. 80
In slack wind of November
The fog forms and shifts;
All the world comes out again
When the fog lifts.
Loosened from their sapless twigs
Leaves drop with every gust;
Drifting, rustling, out of sight
In the damp or dust.
Last of all, December,
The year’s sands nearly run, 90
Speeds on the shortest day,
Curtails the sun;
With its bleak raw wind
Lays the last leaves low,
Brings back the nightly frosts,
Brings back the snow.
How comes it, Flora, that, whenever we
Play cards together, you invariably,
However the pack parts,
Still hold the Queen of Hearts?
I’ve scanned you with a scrutinizing gaze,
Resolved to fathom these your secret ways:
But, sift them as I will,
Your ways are secret still.
I cut and shuffle; shuffle, cut, again;
But all my cutting, shuffling, proves in vain: 10
Vain hope, vain forethought too;
The Queen still falls to you.
I dropped her once, prepense; but, ere the deal
Was dealt, your instinct seemed her loss to feel:
‘There should be one card more,’
You said, and searched the floor.
I cheated once; I made a private notch
In Heart-Queen’s back, and kept a lynx-eyed watch;
Yet such another back
Deceived me in the pack: 20
The Queen of Clubs assumed by arts unknown
An imitative dint that seemed my own;
This notch, not of my doing,
Misled me to my ruin.
It baffles me to puzzle out the clue,
Which must be skill, or craft, or luck in you:
Unless, indeed, it be
I will tell you when they met:
In the limpid days of Spring;
Elder boughs were budding yet,
Oaken boughs looked wintry still,
But primrose and veined violet
In the mossful turf were set,
While meeting birds made haste to sing
And build with right good will.
I will tell you when they parted:
When plenteous Autumn sheaves were brown, 10
Then they parted heavy-hearted;
The full rejoicing sun looked down
As grand as in the days before;
Only they had lost a crown;
Only to them those days of yore
Could come back nevermore.
When shall they meet? I cannot tell,
Indeed, when they shall meet again,
Except some day in Paradise:
For this they wait, one waits in pain. 20
Beyond the sea of death love lies
For ever, yesterday, to-day;
Angels shall ask them, ‘Is it well?’
And they shall answer, ‘Yea.’