Augusta Davies Webster
OH clear smooth rivulet, creeping through our bridge
With backward waves that cling around the shore,
And is thy world beyond the dim blue ridge
More dear than this, or does it need thee more?
Oh lingering stream, upon thy ceaseless way
Glide to to-morrow; yet 'tis fair to-day:
Beyond the hills and haze to-morrows hide;
To-day is fair; glide lingering, ceaseless tide.
SPRING AND SUMMER.
And summer time is good; but at its heat
The fair poor blossoms wither for the fruit,
And song-birds go that made our valley sweet
With useless ecstasies, and the boughs are mute.
And I would keep the blossoms and the song,
And I would have it spring the whole year long:
And I would have my life a year-long spring
To never pass from hopes and blossoming.
Dear welcome, sweet pale stars of hope and spring,
Young primroses, blithe with the April air;
My darlings, waiting for my gathering,
Sit in my bosom, nestle in my hair.
But, oh! the fairest laughs behind the brook,
I cannot have it, I can only look:
Oh happy primrose on the further beach,
One can but look on thee, one cannot reach.
LINNET AND LARK.
Oh buoyant linnet in the flakes of thorn,
Sing thy loud lay; for joy and song are one.
Oh skylark floating upwards into morn,
Pour out thy carolling music of the sun.
Sing, sing; be voices of the life-ful air,
Glad things that never knew the cage nor snare:
Be voices of the air, and fill the sky,
Glad things that have no heed of by-and-by.
THE BEES IN THE LIME.
AMID the thousand blossoms of the lime,
The gossip bees go humming to and fro:
And oh the busy joy of working time!
And oh the fragrance when the lime trees blow!
Take the sweet honeys deftly, happy bees,
And store them for the later days than these:
Store, happy bees, these honeys for the frost,
That sweetness of the blossom be not lost.
A field-plant in my sheltered garden bed,
And I have set it there to love it dear;
It makes blue flowers to match skies overhead,
Blue flowers for all the while the summer's here.
Sky-blooms that woke and budded with the wheat,
Ye last and make the livelong summer sweet:
Spread while the green wheat passes into gold,
Sky-blooms I planted in the garden-mould.
THE FLOWING TIDE.
The slow green wave comes curling from the bay
And leaps in spray along the sunny marge,
And steals a little more and more away,
And drowns the dulse, and lifts the stranded barge.
Leave me, strong tide, my smooth and yellow shore;
But the clear waters deepen more and more:
Leave me my pathway of the sands, strong tide;
Yet are the waves more fair than all they hide.
Some one has said a whispered word to me;
The whisper whispers on within my ear.
Oh little word, hush, hush, and let me be;
Hush, little word, too vexing sweet to hear.
And, if it will not hush, what must I do?
The word was 'Love'; perchance the word was true:
And, if it will not hush, must I repine?
I am his love; perchance then he is mine.
THE HEART THAT LACKS ROOM.
I love him, and I love him, and I love:
Oh heart, my love goes welling o'er the brim.
He makes my light more than the sun above,
And what am I save what I am to him?
All will, all hope I have, to him belong;
Oh heart, thou art too small for love so strong:
Oh heart, grow large, grow deeper for his sake;
Oh love him better, heart, or thou wilt break!
And we are lovers, lovers he and I:
Oh sweet dear name that angels envy us;
Lovers for now, lovers for by and by,
And God to hear us call each other thus.
Flow softly, river of our life, and fair;
We float together to the otherwhere:
Storm, river of our life, if storm must be,
We brunt thy tide together to that sea.
From the dusk elm rings out a changing lay;
The human-hearted nightingale sings there.
Why not, like little minstrels of the day,
Sweet voice, fling only raptures on the air?
'Tis that she's kin to us and has our woe,
Something that's lost or something yet to know:
'Tis that she's kin to us and sings our bliss,
Loving, to know love is yet more than this.
Storm in the dimness of the purpled sky,
And the sharp flash leaps out from cloud to cloud:
But the blue, lifted, corner spreads more high,
Brightness, and brightness, bursts the gathered shroud.
Aye, pass, black storm, thou hadst thy threatening hour;
Now.the freed beams make rainbows of the shower:
Now the freed sunbeams break into the air;
Pass, and the sky forgets thee and is fair.
Blue baby eyes, they are so sweetest sweet,
And yet they have not learned love's dear replies;
They beg not smiles, nor call for me, nor greet,
But clear, unshrinking, note me with surprise.
But, eyes that have your father's curve of lid,
You'll learn the look that he keeps somewhere hid:
You'll smile, grave baby eyes, and I shall see
The look your father keeps for only me.
In all fair hues from white to mingled rose,
Along the hedge the clasping bindweed flowers;
And when one chalice shuts a new one blows,
There's blooming for all minutes of the hours.
Along the hedge beside the trodden lane
Where day by day we pass and pass again:
Rosy and white along the busy mile,
A flower for every step and all the while.
THE leagues of heather lie on moor and hill,
And make soft purple dimness and red glow;
No butterfly may call the blithe wind chill
That brings the ruddy heather-bells a-blow.
The song-birds half forget the world is fair,
And pipe no lays because the heather's there:
Oh foolish birds that have no joyous lay,
With hill and moor a garden ground to-day!
The swallows went last week, but 'twas too soon;
For, look, the sunbeams streaming on their eaves;
And, look, my rose, a very child of June,
Spreading its crimson coronet of leaves.
Was it too late, my rose, to bud and blow?
For when the summer wanes her roses go:
Bloom, rose, there are more roses yet to wake,
With hearts of sweetness for the summer's sake.
So tall along the dusty highway row,
So wide on the free heath the brambles spread;
Here's the pink bud, and here the full white blow,
And here the black ripe berry, here the red.
Bud, flower, and fruit, among the mingling thorns;
And dews to feed them in the autumn morns:
Fruit, flower, and bud, together, thou rich tree!
And oh but life's a happy time for me!
The road slopes on that leads us to the last,
And we two tread it softly, side by side;
'Tis a blithe count the milestones we have passed,
Step fitting step, and each of us for guide.
My love, and I thy love, our road is fair,
And fairest most because the other's there:
Our road is fair, adown the harvest hill,
But fairest that we two are we two still.
We two, we two! the children's smiles are dear—
Thank God how dear the bonny children's smiles!—
But 'tis we two among our own ones here,
We two along life's way through all the whiles.
To think if we had passed each other by;
And he not he apart, and I not I!
And oh to think if we had never known;
And I not I and he not he alone!
THE APPLE ORCHARD.
The apple branches bend with ripening weight,
The apple branches rosy as with flowers;
You'd think red giant fuchsias blooming late
Within this sunny orchard ground of ours.
Give us your shade, fair fountain trees of fruits;
We rest upon the mosses at your roots:
Fair fountain trees of fruits, drop windfalls here;
Lo, ripening store for all the coming year.
THE green and happy world is hidden away;
Cold, cold, the ghostly snows lie on its breast;
The white miles reach the shadows wan and grey
'Neath wan grey skies unchanged from east to west.
Sleep on beneath the snows, chilled, barren, earth;
There are no blossoms for thy winter dearth:
Break not nor melt, fall still from heaven, wan snows;
Hide the spoiled earth, and numb her to repose.
'Tis a brave tree. While round its boughs in vain
The warring wind of January bites and girds,
It holds the clusters of its crimson grain,
A winter pasture for the shivering birds.
Oh patient holly, that the children love,
No need for thee of smooth blue skies above:
Oh green strong holly, shine amid the frost;
Thou dost not lose one leaf for sunshine lost.
They sleep here well who have forgotten to-day,
They weep not while we weep, nor wake each morn
To bitter new surprise, as mourners may
That knew not in their rest they were forlorn.
Calm graveyard, 'tis more pleasant to sit here
Than where loud life pretends its eager cheer:
Calm graveyard, where he waits and I shall be,
Thou hast the spot of earth most dear to me.
THE FROZEN RIVER.
Dead stream beneath the icy silent blocks
That motionless stand soddening into grime,
Thy fretted falls hang numb, frost pens the locks;
Dead river, when shall be thy waking time?
'Not dead;' the river spoke and answered me,
'My burdened current, hidden, finds the sea'
'Not dead, not dead;' my heart replied at length,
'The frozen river holds a hidden strength.'
Go forth, my darling, in the wreath and veil;
My hand shall place them for thee; so goodbye.
Thou hast Love's rose, and tend it without fail;
It withers, dear, if lovers let it lie.
Go, my own singing bird, and be his now;
And I am more than half as glad as thou.
Ah me! the singing birds that were our own
Fly forth and mate: and 'tis long life alone.
We two that could not part are parted long;
He in the far-off Heaven, and I to wait.
A fair world once, all blossom-time and song;
But to be lonely tires, and I live late.
To think we two have not a word to change:
And one without the other here is strange!
To think we two have nothing now to share:
I wondering here, and he without me there!
We two, we two! we still are linked and nigh:
He could not have forgotten in any bliss;
Surely he feels my being yet; and I,
I have no thought but seems some part of his.
Oh love gone out of reach of yearning eyes,
Our hearts can meet to gather-in replies:
Oh love past touch of lip and clasp of hand,
Thou canst not be too far to understand.
THE FLOWERS TO COME.
The drift is in the hollows of the hill,
Yet primrose leaves uncurl beneath the hedge;
Frosts pierce the dawn, and the north wind blows chill,
Yet snowdrop spikelets rim the garden edge.
Dear plants that will make bud in coming spring,
Ye were not for one only blossoming:
More than one blossoming for all fair flowers;
And God keeps mine till spring is somewhere ours.
Augusta Davies Webster's Other Poems
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(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
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