I came back late and tired last night
Into my little room,
To the long chair and the firelight
And comfortable gloom.
But as I entered softly in
I saw a woman there,
The line of neck and cheek and chin,
The darkness of her hair,
The form of one I did not know
Sitting in my chair.
I stood a moment fierce and still,
Watching her neck and hair.
I made a step to her; and saw
That there was no one there.
It was some trick of the firelight
That made me see her there.
It was a chance of shade and light
And the cushion in the chair.
Oh, all you happy over the earth,
That night, how could I sleep?
I lay and watched the lonely gloom;
And watched the moonlight creep
From wall to basin, round the room,
All night I could not sleep.
I cannot but remember
When the year grows old—
How she disliked the cold!
She used to watch the swallows
Go down across the sky,
And turn from the window
With a little sharp sigh.
And often when the brown leaves
Were brittle on the ground,
And the wind in the chimney
Made a melancholy sound,
She had a look about her
That I wish I could forget—
The look of a scared thing
Sitting in a net!
Oh, beautiful at nightfall
The soft spitting snow!
And beautiful the bare boughs
Rubbing to and fro!
But the roaring of the fire,
And the warmth of fur,
And the boiling of the kettle
Were beautiful to her!
I cannot but remember— Edna St. Vincent Millay
When the year grows old—
How she disliked the cold!
Once I said to a scarecrow, “You must be tired of standing in this lonely field.”
And he said, “The joy of scaring is a deep and lasting one, and I never tire of it.”
Said I, after a minute of thought, “It is true; for I too have known that joy.”
Said he, “Only those who are stuffed with straw can know it.”
Then I left him, not knowing whether he had complimented or belittled me.
A year passed, during which the scarecrow turned philosopher.
And when I passed by him again I saw two crows building a nest under his hat.— Khalil Gibran
Books are the quiet monitors of mind,
They prompt its motions, shape its ways, they find
A road through mazes to the higher ground,
Whence to explore the sky-bound marches. Round
About us lie the open downs. Our days
Still ask a guide and goad. Wherefore always
We meditate wise thoughts and passionate lays;
Wherefore I send a book.
Books are the mind’s last symbol. They express
Its visions and its subtleties—a dress
Material for the immaterial things
That soar to immortality on wings
Of words, and live, by magic of the pen,
Where dead minds live, upon the lips of men
And deep in hearts that stir. Wherefore do I,
Drawing a little near, prophetically,
Send you a book.
Books are the heart’s memorial. They shall measure,— Clive Bell
In after days, our undiscovered treasure,—
Thrilling self-knowledge, half-divined untold
Yearnings, and tongueless agonies, shall unfold
Or half unfold to half-illumined eyes.
The cypress shadows creeping gnomonwise
Still stretch their purple fingers down the hill
That hangs above Fiesole; and still
Your English fireside glows. Do you most dear—
Sometimes just guessed at, sometimes very near—
Yet always dear and fairest friend, do you
Recall the sunlight and the firelight too?
Recall the pregnant hours, the gay delights,
The pain, the tears maybe, the ravished heights,
The golden moments my cold lines commend,
The days, in memory or which I send
The goldenrod is yellow,
The corn is turning brown,
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down;
The gentian’s bluest fringes
Are curling in the sun;
In dusty pods the milkweed
Its hidden silk has spun;
The sedges flaunt their harvest
In every meadow nook,
And asters by the brookside
Make asters in the brook;
From dewy lanes at morning
The grapes’ sweet odors rise;
At noon the roads all flutter
With yellow butterflies—
By all these lovely tokens— Helen Hunt Jackson
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather
And autumn’s best of cheer.
Every valley drinks,
Every dell and hollow:
Where the kind rain sinks and sinks,
Green of Spring will follow.
Yet a lapse of weeks
Buds will burst their edges,
Strip their wool-coats, glue-coats, streaks,
In the woods and hedges;
Weave a bower of love
For birds to meet each other,
Weave a canopy above
Nest and egg and mother.
But for fattening rain
We should have no flowers,
Never a bud or leaf again
But for soaking showers;
Never a mated bird
In the rocking tree-tops,
Never indeed a flock or herd
To graze upon the lea-crops.
Lambs so woolly white,
Sheep the sun-bright leas on,
They could have no grass to bite
But for rain in season.
We should find no moss
In the shadiest places,
Find no waving meadow-grass
Pied with broad-eyed daisies;
But miles of barren sand,— Christina G. Rossetti
With never a son or daughter,
Not a lily on the land,
Or lily on the water.
The more we live, more brief appear
Our life’s succeeding stages:
A day to childhood seems a year,
And years like passing ages.
The gladsome current of our youth
Ere passion yet disorders,
Steals lingering like a river smooth
Along its grassy borders.
But as the careworn cheek grows wan,
And sorrow’s shafts fly thicker,
Ye Stars, that measure life to man,
Why seem your courses quicker?
When joys have lost their bloom and breath
And life itself is vapid,
Why, as we reach the Falls of Death,
Feel we its tide more rapid?
It may be strange—yet who would change
Time’s course to lower speeding,
When one by one our friends have gone
And left our bosoms bleeding?
Heaven gives our years of fading strength— Thomas Campbell
And those of youth, a seeming length,
Proportion’d to their sweetness.