Poems are heavenly things,
And only souls with wings
May reach them where they grow,
May pluck and bear below,
Feeding the nations thus
With food all glorious.
Verses are not of these;
They bloom on earthly trees,
Poised on a low-hung stem,
And those may gather them
Who cannot fly to where
The heavenly gardens are.
So I by devious ways
Have pulled some easy sprays
From the down-dropping bough
Which all may reach, and now
I knot them, bud and leaf,
Into a rhymed sheaf.
Not mine the pinion strong
To win the nobler song;
I only cull and bring
A hedge-row offering
Of berry, flower, and brake,
If haply some may take.
“Do their errands; enter into the sacrifice with them; be a link yourself in the divine chain, and feel the joy and life of it.” —Adeline D. T. Whitney
What can I do for thee, Beloved,
Whose feet so little while ago
Trod the same way-side dust with mine,
And now up paths I do not know
Speed, without sound or sign?
What can I do? The perfect life
All fresh and fair and beautiful
Has opened its wide arms to thee;
Thy cup is over-brimmed and full;
Nothing remains for me.
I used to do so many things,—
Love thee and chide thee and caress;
Brush little straws from off thy way,
Tempering with my poor tenderness
The heat of thy short day.
Not much, but very sweet to give;
And it is grief of griefs to bear
That all these ministries are o’er,
And thou, so happy, Love, elsewhere,
Never can need me more:—
And I can do for thee but this
(Working on blindly, knowing not
If I may give thee pleasure so):
Out of my own dull, burdened lot
I can arise, and go
To sadder lives and darker homes,
A messenger, dear heart, from thee
Who wast on earth a comforter,
And say to those who welcome me,
I am sent forth by her.
Feeling the while how good it is
To do thy errands thus, and think
It may be, in the blue, far space,
Thou watchest from the heaven’s brink,—
A smile upon my face.
And when the day’s work ends with day,
And star-eyed evening, stealing in,
Waves a cool hand to flying noon,
And restless, surging thoughts begin,
Like sad bells out of tune,
I’ll pray: “Dear Lord, to whose
Nor bound nor limit line is set,
Give to my darling, I implore,
Some new sweet joy not tasted yet,
For I can give no more.”
And with the words my thoughts shall climb
With following feet the heavenly stair
Up which thy steps so lately sped,
And, seeing thee so happy there,
Come back half comforted.