Ada Cambridge (21 November 1844 – 19 July 1926 / St Gemans, Norfolk)
So still—so still! Only the endless sighing
Of sad Æolian harp-notes overhead;
Only the soft mass-music for the dying;
Only the requiem for the newly dead!
So strangely dim!—the grey mist on the heather,
The chill cloud-twilight in the wind-stripped bowers,
Where gold and scarlet sunlights lay together
On harvest fruit and summer wealth of flowers.
So empty now!—only the dead leaves sifting
The dead brown berries underneath the trees;
Only my fair dead treasures idly drifting
About my footsteps in the autumn breeze.
All over now! No flowers that must be tended
Are left to grow upon the open plain;
No fruits to ripen; for the harvest's ended—
There's no more need for either sun or rain.
The infinite hope, the boundless, strong endeavour,
The love and joy I never thought to sum,
The precious things that were to last for ever—
All gather'd now, and nothing more to come!
Only the shroud of snow, the white star-tapers,
The passionate storm-winds, wailing in the air;
Only the icy rain and tearful vapours,
Only the winter darkness of despair!
* * * * *
So still, so sweet! with tender breezes blowing
Amongst the hills and o'er the Lowland sod,
And golden drifts of dead leaves softly strowing
The seed-graves hollow'd by the hands of God.
So grey and calm! the crimson glory faded
From this low sky, pale blue and purple-barred—
This placid sea, with steel and silver shaded—
This fair earth, now with autumn furrows scarred.
In the decay such chasten'd beauty blending—
Beauty late-born of peace, and hope, and rest,
As in a saintly life when near the ending,
When all its strife and labour has been blest.
The harvest-time is past. But there remaineth
The well-stored treasure-house—the hidden seed
That dead leaves help to nourish, which containeth
The germ of a new life that's life indeed.
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