Afternoon on a Hill

I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.


I will look at cliffs and clouds
With quiet eyes,
Watch the wind bow down the grass,
And the grass rise.


And when lights begin to show
Up from the town,
I will mark which must be mine,
And then start down.

— Edna St. Vincent Millay

City Trees

The trees along this city street,

Save for the traffic and the trains,

Would make a sound as thin and sweet

As trees in country lanes.

And people standing in their shade

Out of a shower, undoubtedly

Would hear such music as is made

Upon a country tree.

Oh, little leaves that are so dumb

Against the shrieking city air,

I watch you when the wind has come—

I know what sound is there.

— Edna St. Vincent Millay

The House with Nobody in It

Whenever I walk to Suffern along the Erie track

I go by a poor old farmhouse with its shingles broken and black.

I suppose I’ve passed it a hundred times, but I always stop for a minute

And look at the house, the tragic house, the house with nobody in it.

I never have seen a haunted house, but I hear there are such things;

That they hold the talk of spirits, their mirth and sorrowing’s.

I know this house isn’t haunted, and I wish it were, I do;

For it wouldn’t be so lonely if it had a ghost or two.

This house on the road to Suffern needs a dozen panes of glass,

And somebody ought to weed the walk and take a scythe to the grass.

It needs new paint and shingles, and the vines should be trimmed and tied;

But what it needs the most of all is some people living inside.

If I had a lot of money and all my debts were paid

I’d put a gang of men to work with brush and saw and spade.

I’d buy that place and fix it up the way it used to be

And I’d find some people who wanted a home and give it to them free.

Now, a new house standing empty, with staring window and door,

Looks idle, perhaps, and foolish, like a hat on its block in the store.

But there’s nothing mournful about it; it cannot be sad and lone

For the lack of something within it that it has never known.

But a house that has done what a house should do,

a house that has sheltered life,

That has put its loving wooden arms around a man and his wife,

A house that has echoed a baby’s laugh and held up his stumbling feet,

Is the saddest sight, when it’s left alone, that ever your eyes could meet.

So, whenever I go to Suffern along the Erie track

I never go by the empty house without stopping and looking back,

Yet it hurts me to look at the crumbling roof and the shutters fallen apart,

For I can’t help thinking the poor old house is a house with a broken heart.

— Joyce Kilmer

The Last Rose of Summer

‘Tis the last rose of summer

Left blooming alone;

All her lovely companions

Are faded and gone;

No flower of her kindred,

No rose-bud is nigh,

To reflect back her blushes,

Or give sigh for sigh.

I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one!

To pine on the stem;

Since the lovely are sleeping,

Go, sleep thou with them.

Thus kindly I scatter

Thy leaves o’er the bed

Where thy mates of the garden

Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow,

When friendships decay,

And from Love’s shining circle

The gems drop away.

When true hearts lie withered,

And fond ones are flown,

O! who would inhabit

This bleak world alone?


—Thomas Moore

A Name in the Sand

Alone I walked the ocean strand;

A pearly shell was in my hand:

I stooped and wrote upon the sand

My name—the year—the day.

As onward from the spot I passed,

One lingering look behind I cast;

A wave came rolling high and fast,

And washed my lines away.

And so, methought, ’twill shortly be

With every mark on earth from me:

A wave of dark oblivion’s sea

Will sweep across the place

Where I have trod the sandy shore

Of time, and been, to be no more,

Of me—my day—the name I bore,

To leave nor track nor trace.

And yet, with Him who counts the sands

And holds the waters in His hands,

I know a lasting record stands

Inscribed against my name,

Of all this mortal part has wrought,

Of all this thinking soul has thought,

And from these fleeting moments caught

For glory or for shame.


—Hannah Flagg Gould.