The crocus, in the shrewd March morn,
Thrusts up its saffron spear;
And April dots the sombre thorn
With gems, and loveliest cheer.
Then sleep the seasons, full of might;
While slowly swells the pod,
And rounds the peach, and in the night
The mushroom bursts the sod.
The winter falls: the frozen rut
Is bound with silver bars;
The white drift heaps against the hut;
And night is pierced with stars.
Where sunless rivers weep
Their waves into the deep,
She sleeps a charmed sleep;
Awake her not.
Led by a single star,
She came from very far,
To seek where shadows are
Her pleasant lot.
She left the rosy morn,
She left the fields of corn,
For twilight cold and lorn,
Thro’ sleep, as thro’ a veil,
She sees the sky look pale,
And hears the nightingale,
That sadly sings.
Rest, rest, a perfect rest,
Shed over brow and breast;
Her face is toward the west,
The purple land.
She cannot see the grain
Ripening on hill and plain;
She cannot feel the rain
Upon her hand.
Rest, rest, for evermore
Upon a mossy shore,
Rest, rest, that shall endure,
Till time shall cease;—
Sleep that no pain shall wake,
Night that no morn shall break,
Till joy shall overtake
Her perfect peace.
Songs of One Household
My Sister’s Sleep
She fell asleep on Christmas Eve.
Upon her eyes’ most patient calms
The lids were shut; her uplaid arms
Covered her bosom, I believe.
Our mother, who had leaned all day
Over the bed from chime to chime,
Then raised herself for the first time,
And as she sat her down, did pray.
Her little work-table was spread
With work to finish. For the glare
Made by her candle, she had care
To work some distance from the bed.
Without, there was a good moon up,
Which left its shadows far within;
The depth of light that it was in
Seemed hollow like an altar-cup.
Through the small room, with subtle sound
Of flame, by vents the fireshine drove
And reddened. In its dim alcove
The mirror shed a clearness round.
I had been sitting up some nights,
And my tir’d mind felt weak and blank;
Like a sharp strengthening wine, it drank
The stillness and the broken lights.
Silence was speaking at my side
With an exceedingly clear voice:
I knew the calm as of a choice
Made in God for me, to abide.