A Hedge Of Rubber Trees

The West Village by then was changing; before long
the rundown brownstones at its farthest edge
would have slipped into trendier hands. She lived,
impervious to trends, behind a potted hedge of
rubber trees, with three cats, a canary—refuse
from whose cage kept sifting down and then
germinating, a yearning seedling choir, around
the saucers on the windowsill—and an inexorable
cohort of roaches she was too nearsighted to deal
with, though she knew they were there, and would
speak of them, ruefully, as of an affliction that


A Fairy Tale

On winter nights beside the nursery fire
We read the fairy tale, while glowing coals
Builded its pictures. There before our eyes
We saw the vaulted hall of traceried stone
Uprear itself, the distant ceiling hung
With pendent stalactites like frozen vines;
And all along the walls at intervals,
Curled upwards into pillars, roses climbed,
And ramped and were confined, and clustered leaves
Divided where there peered a laughing face.
The foliage seemed to rustle in the wind,


A Dialog

I.

Death, if thou wilt, fain would I plead with thee:
Canst thou not spare, of all our hopes have built,
One shelter where our spirits fain would be,
Death, if thou wilt?

No dome with suns and dews impearled and gilt,
Imperial: but some roof of wildwood tree,
Too mean for sceptre's heft or swordblade's hilt.

Some low sweet roof where love might live, set free
From change and fear and dreams of grief or guilt;
Canst thou not leave life even thus much to see,
Death, if thou wilt?

II.


A Dead Friend

I.

Gone, O gentle heart and true,
Friend of hopes foregone,
Hopes and hopeful days with you
Gone?

Days of old that shone
Saw what none shall see anew,
When we gazed thereon.

Soul as clear as sunlit dew,
Why so soon pass on,
Forth from all we loved and knew
Gone?

II.

Friend of many a season fled,
What may sorrow send
Toward thee now from lips that said
'Friend'?

Sighs and songs to blend
Praise with pain uncomforted


A Baby's Death

A little soul scarce fledged for earth
Takes wing with heaven again for goal
Even while we hailed as fresh from birth
A little soul.

Our thoughts ring sad as bells that toll,
Not knowing beyond this blind world's girth
What things are writ in heaven's full scroll.

Our fruitfulness is there but dearth,
And all things held in time's control
Seem there, perchance, ill dreams, not worth
A little soul.



The little feet that never trod
Earth, never strayed in field or street,


A change of Air

Now, a man in Oodnadatta
He grew fat, and he grew fatter,
Though he hardly had a thing to eat for dinner;
While a man in Booboorowie
Often sat and wondered how he
Could prevent himself from growing any thinner.

So the man from Oodnadatta
He came down to Booboorowie,
Where he rapidly grew flatter;
And the folk will tell you how he
Urged the man from Booboorowie
To go up to Oodnadatta -
Where he lived awhile, and now he
Is considerably fatter.


A Departure

Since first the White Horse Banner blew free,
By Hengist's horde unfurled,
Nothing has changed on land or sea
Of the things that steer the world.
(As it was when the long-ships scudded through the gale
So it is where the Liners go.)
Time and Tide, they are both in a tale--
"Woe to the weaker -- woe! "

No charm can bridle the hard-mouthed wind
Or smooth the fretting swell.
No gift can alter the grey Sea's mind,
But she serves the strong man well.
(As it is when her uttermost deeps are stirred


A Complaint

There is a change--and I am poor;
Your love hath been, nor long ago,
A fountain at my fond heart's door,
Whose only business was to flow;
And flow it did; not taking heed
Of its own bounty, or my need.

What happy moments did I count!
Blest was I then all bliss above!
Now, for that consecrated fount
Of murmuring, sparkling, living love,
What have I? Shall I dare to tell?
A comfortless and hidden well.

A well of love--it may be deep--
I trust it is,--and never dry:


A Divine Rapture

E'EN like two little bank-dividing brooks,
   That wash the pebbles with their wanton streams,
And having ranged and search'd a thousand nooks,
   Meet both at length in silver-breasted Thames,
   Where in a greater current they conjoin:
So I my Best-beloved's am; so He is mine.

E'en so we met; and after long pursuit,
   E'en so we joined; we both became entire;
No need for either to renew a suit,
   For I was flax, and He was flames of fire:
   Our firm-united souls did more than twine;


A Dilettante

Good friend, be patient: goes the world awry?
well, can you groove it straight with all your pains?
and, sigh or scold, and, argue or intreat,
what have you done but waste your part of life
on impotent fool's battles with the winds,
that will blow as they list in spite of you?

Fie, I am weary of your pettish griefs
against the world that's given, like a child
who whines and pules because his bread's not cake,
because the roses have those ugly thorns
that prick if he's not careful of his hands.


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