Downy and soft and warm.
No little seedling voice is heard to grieve
Or make complaints the folding woods beneath;
No lingerer dares to stay, for well they know
The time to go.
Teach us your patience,
Dear flowers, till we shall dare to part like you,
Willing God’s will, sure that his clock strikes true,
That his sweet day augurs a sweeter morrow,
With smiles, not sorrow.
Lonely and cold and fierce I keep my way,
Scourge of the lands, companioned by the storm,
Tossing to heaven my frontlet, wild and gray,
Mateless, yet conscious ever of a warm
And brooding presence close to mine all day.
What is this alien thing, so near, so far,
Close to my life always, but blending never?
Hemmed in by walls whose crystal gates unbar
Not at the instance of my strong endeavor
To pierce the stronghold where their secrets are?
Buoyant, impalpable, relentless, thin,
Rise the clear, mocking walls. I strive in vain
To reach the pulsing heart that beats within,
Or with persistence of a cold disdain,
To quell the gladness which I may not win.
Forever sundered and forever one,
Linked by a bond whose spell I may not guess,
Our hostile, yet embracing currents run;
Such wedlock lonelier is than loneliness.
Baffled, withheld, I clasp the bride I shun.
Yet even in my wrath a wild regret
Mingles; a bitterness of jealous strife
Tinges my fury as I foam and fret
Against the borders of that calmer life,
Beside whose course my wrathful course is set.
But all my anger, all my pain and woe,
Are vain to daunt her gladness; all the while
She goes rejoicing, and I do not know,
Catching the soft irradiance of her smile,
If I am most her lover or her foe.
As purely white as is the drifted snow,
More dazzling fair than summer roses are,
Petalled with rays like a clear rounded star,
When winds pipe chilly, and red sunsets glow,
Your blossoms blow.
Sweet with a freshening fragrance, all their
In which a faint, dim breath of bitter lies,
Like wholesome breath mid honeyed flatteries;
When other blooms are dead, and birds have flown,
You stand alone.
Fronting the winter with a fearless grace,
Flavoring the odorless gray autumn chill,
Nipped by the furtive frosts, but cheery still,
Lifting to heaven from the bare garden place
A smiling face.
Roses are fair, but frail, and soon grow faint,
Nor can endure a hardness; violets blue,
Short-lived and sweet, live but a day or two;
The nun-like lily bows without complaint,
And dies a saint.