To Annette from Uncle Tom.
Xmas 1887- Toronto, Canada.]
*Landscape and Song.*
Selected and Arranged by E. Nesbit.
LONDON: HENRY J. DRANE & CO. Paternoster Row E.C.
New York: E.P. Dutton & Co.
What dreams the flower cups enfold Within their fragrant leaves, Of meadow-ways grown fair with spring, Soft mists that April weaves; And cottage gardens where the scent Of flowers is with the wood-smoke blent.
The ceaseless ripple of the brook, Babbling against the broken arch, The little firwood's tasselled spires, The cloud of verdure on the larch; The gold-green glimmer of the woods, Where tender twilight always broods.
There is dew for the flow'ret, And honey for the bee, And bowers for the wild bird, And love for you and me.
There are tears for the many, And pleasures for the few, But let the world pass on, dear, There's love for me and you.
THE ROSE IN OCTOBER.
O late and sweet, too sweet, too late! What nightingale will sing to thee? The empty nest, the shivering tree, The dead leaves by the garden gate, And cawing crows for thee will wait, O sweet and late!
Where wert thou when the soft June nights Were faint with perfume, glad with song? Where wert thou when the days were long And steeped in Summer's young delights? What hopest thou now but checks and slights, Brief days, lone nights?
Stay, there's a gleam of Winter wheat Far on the hill; down in the woods A very heaven of stillness broods; And through the mellow sun's worn heat, Lo! tender pulses round thee beat, O late and sweet!
There's beauty all around our paths, if but our watchful eyes Can trace it midst familiar things and through their lowly guise; We may find it when a hedgerow showers its blossoms o'er our way, Or a cottage window sparkles forth in the last red light of day.
Half covered with last year's leaves, She peeped from her russet bed;
The great bare branches of the trees Were tossed and swayed overhead;
The hedge looked barren and prickly, Without the sign of a leaf; Over the flower there bowed a heart Grown cold with the snows of grief.
The violet's fragile petals Enfolded a heart of gold, And a deeper wealth of perfume, Than the tiny cup could hold; So the great wind roaring above Sent a tiny zephyr down, To drift aside the sheltering bloom, And bereave her of her crown.
It stole the familiar scent, To give to the burdened heart With only a cold north wind In the world to take its part; The flower died in the bleak March air, And the heart went on its way; The violet's life was blooming there, And melting the snows away.
Yet nature holds a gracious hand, Her ancient ways pursuing; And spreads the charms we loved of old, To aid the heart's renewing.
Here her long crests of fringed crag Allure the skyward swallows; Here the still dove's low love-note floats Above her leafy hollows.
Here its calm strength her hillside rears, From heaving slopes of clover; Here still the pewit pipes and flits Within his furzy cover.
Here hums the wild-bee in the thyme, Here glows the royal heather; And youth comes back upon the breeze, And youth's unclouded weather.
Dear, do not die! Of cypresses and grassy graves sing I— I hang with wreaths of song death's grief-grown cross, And weep, to music, for Life's infinite loss, And make the sweetest verse of bitterest woe, —I know the way because I love you so; But I have written griefs that I have known In other's heart's blood, never in my own. If you died what more could be sung or said? I could not sing of Death if you were dead.
Dear, do not love! Do not love me, keep still aloof, above! While you and Love in far-off glory stand Clear sounds the voice, and harp responds to hand. But if you loved me—if you came quite near And set Love 'mid life's common things and dear— Mute would the voice be, Love would be too fair To waste upon the wide world's empty air, And, songless, I should droop and vainly pine— I could not sing of Love if you were mine!
I know the way she went Home with her maiden posy, For her feet have touch'd the meadows And left the daisies rosy.
A golden radiance shines, And day declines; Red in the dying sun, Day's course is run; And weary labourers have homeward gone, Their day's work done.
The cornfield now is still, To-morrow will Bring back the men who reap: But now asleep The woods and fields and meadows seem to lie— Restful as I.
As a twig trembles which a bird Lights on to sing, then leaves unbent, So is my memory thrilled and stirred; I only know she came and went.
As clasps some lake, by gusts unriven, The blue dome's measureless content, So my soul held that moment's heaven;— I only know she came and went.
As at one bound, our swift Spring heaps The orchard full of bloom and scent, So clove her May my wintry sleeps;— I only know she came and went.
An angel stood and met my gaze Through the low doorway of my tent; The tent is struck, the vision stays;— I only know she came and went.
Oh, when the room grows slowly dim, And life's last oil is nearly spent, One gush of light these eyes will brim, Only to think she came and went.
Waking, I dream of thy life that shall be Never by sorrow made weary; Earth shall be soft with love for thee, Down-lined the nest of my dearie. Millions of flowers to gladden thy way, Springing from seeds that my heart sets to-day. Sleep, darling baby, baby!
Sleeping, dream thou of the Spirit of Spring— Of sweets and of scents she is bringing; Just for the flowers' sake thrushes will sing, Flowers blow for love of the singing. In the world's harmony take thou thy part, So shall the springtide bloom in thy heart! Sleep, darling baby, baby!
Now comes the first chill whisper of the end, While yet the woods are green and skies are blue; While under loads of corn great waggons bend, And sunshine makes us glad the whole day through. The trees are full of leaf and of delight, Yet through them sighs the forecast of the time When the lean branches shall be wondrous, white With winter's lovely radiant frost and rime.
The fallen leaves as yet are hardly missed, The rest will fade—until the woods are bare, And the dim glades where summer lovers kissed, Forget how leafy and divine they were. And in our souls come whispers of despair, "Failure again—failure for evermore! Leaves only for one summer's space are fair, No flower can live to see the fruit it bore."
Yet every spring millions of flowers have birth, And every autumn brings its fruits and sheaves; But when the fruit and grain make glad the earth, Dead are the flowers, and falling are the leaves. Though all our lives we see our dear dreams die,— Each noble dream brings fruit. It may not be The fruit we hoped it would be followed by, But the fruit lasts to all eternity.
No seed is lost—in earth's brown bosom cast; No deed is lost—of all the deeds we do; Each grows to fruit—is harvested at last, Haply in shape undreamed of, fair, and new. And, though we die before the end be won, Our deeds live on; and other men will cry, Seeing the end of what we have begun, "Still lives the fruit for which the flowers had to die!"
Birds, joyous birds, of the wandering wing! Whence is it ye come with the flowers of Spring? "We come from the shores of the green old Nile, From the land where the roses of Sharon smile, And each worn wing hath regained its home Under peasants' roof-trees or monarch's dome."
And what have ye found in the monarch's dome, Since last ye traversed the blue sea's foam? "We have found a change, we have found a pall, And a gloom o'ershadowing the banquet's hall, And a mark on the floor as of life-drops spilt,— Naught looks the same, save the nest we built."
O joyous birds! it hath still been so; Through the halls of kings doth the tempest go! But the huts of the hamlet lie still and deep, And the hills o'er their quiet a vigil keep: Say, what have ye found in the peasant's cot, Since last ye parted from that sweet spot?—
"A change we have found there—and many a change! Faces and footsteps, and all things strange! Gone are the heads of the silvery hair, And the young that were, have a brow of care. And the place is hushed where the children played— Naught looks the same, save the nest we made."