The Creeper

It covered all
The cold east wall,
Its green, thin gold, purple, brown,
And flame running up and down;
Lifting its quiet bosom to every wind that crept
Up the high wall and in its darkness slept.
Then when the wind slept all the creeper turned
To undiminishing fire that burned and burned and burned.

But one black night
(For not in the light
May such treacheries be done)
Came with dishonoured weapon one
And cut the stem just where the branches thin
Their million-leaf'd wild wandering begin:
Cut the firm stem quite through, and so it bled,
And all the million leaves shivered and hung there dead.

The wall how cold,
The house how old
Became when that warm bright fire died,
And the fond wind could no more hide.
And it was strange that so much death could be
From one dark night-hour's darker felony;
And how the leaves being dead could not cast down
Their colours in bright pools of red and gold and brown.

—It did not die,
But flamed on high
Morn after morn, even when white snow
Covered all brightness, high and low;
And in the night when the snow glimmered wan
Still beautiful as a fire its brightness shone:
Its million quiet leaves quivering in my mind,
When from no earthly meadows crept the remembered wind.
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