Family Group

THE low-branched oak-tree made
A background of steep shade
To that first family group of four.
And how well I remember
In the sunlight of September
The shifting and the hushing of the four.

Beatrix was close-propped by
Katie and Emily:
I, crouched between, made up the four.
Ended at last the hushing,
The nudging and sly pushing,
Till all sat stiff upon the grassy floor.

Yes, all of us is here—
Bonneted dark eyes peer,
I staring most of all the four:
Their proud and summer draping,
Their shut smiles half escaping,
And the perplexity my small face wore.

But something here is gone.
Where is the bow that shone
Seven-hued, high-arched above the four?
Artist, were you so blinded,
So envious or cold-minded,
That you showed not the sign that arched us o'er?

And something dark appears
Now after thirty years,
A bony shade glooms on the four.
Artist, did you espy it
Far off, and deny it,
So that not then the shade gloomed “Never more”?

Katie and Emily,
Beatrix between, and I
Leaned on thin hand made up the four.
Still the wide oak may stoop there
And other children group there,
But not in mortal flesh again that four.
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