A Little Old Maid
She grew, like other girls and flowers,
Sheltered and tended daintily;
And told her dolls, through sunny hours,
A prince would come her love to be.
And none denied her as she grew
The kingdom where her prince was lord.
For him she bloomed, and drank the dew
Of youth, and wore the virgin's sword.
From her strong tower of maidenhood
She saw brave men ride east and west;
And dreamed of peace in love's deep wood,
With babies nestling on her breast.
And when no knight her banner bore,
Nor hailed her with love's accolade,
Silent beside her open door
She wondered first, then grew afraid:
Afraid of quickened dust whereof
Life made but phantoms for a show;
Afraid of laughter and of love,
Of God and his unchanging No.
And things the world calls wise and good
She did to bid her fear be still;
Gave largess of her brains and blood,
Chastened her bold, far-wandering will.
But, withering ever at the heart,
She felt her spirit die unborn.
A ghost, she moved on earth apart,
And feared to face the angels' scorn.
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