Annie Adams Fields (1834-1915 / USA)
The First Thanksgiving Day After The War
Holy silence of Thanksgiving!
With the presence of the living,
With the peace the season takes,
Falling with the falling snowflakes,
After the harrowing dissonance
And sorrowing of wars!
Where the spruces droop their arms
Heavy with deep weight of snow,
Lured and beckoned by their charms
Through a winding path we go,
Leading to the cottage stoop
Where awaits warm salutation
From the merry household group,
Shining with young love's elation.
The crackling fire, the merry dance,
And the stories of adventure
And what patriots endure;
And the lady brings a chart,
Worn and crumpled in the service,
Spreads it on her silken dress,
While her slender fingers press
Reverently each warworn part
As to heal some piteous crevice;
Then, brown curls to brown curls bent
In lovers' measureless content,
He guides her hand (but does not speak)
From Baltimore to Cedar Creek.
Here was the end, brave heart!
His words burst forth like gusts of rain
Washing across an April sky,
Bringing a penetrating pain.
But -- young was their life's ecstasy,
And death in friendship hath no part,
And noble memories will bless
And crown their happiness:
Therefore they spoke as he were here once more,
Nor marked a silent vision cross the floor, --
The vision of a woman kneeling,
Her baby's little arms, appealing,
Stretched toward that ragged sheet
Which knowledge made complete,
Watching with look of rapt beatitude
Those others in the selfsame attitude
She and her sleeping lover knew
Before his spirit flew.
The bride arose to fold the page
Grown sacred with the look of age;
The winds were gathering; through the storm
Again I saw the flitting form
Watch where the merry voices rise,
Seeing calm joy in married eyes,
And then -- a marriage chamber in a tent --
The past with a high future blent.
Saw the Norway spruces bending,
Saw their snowy arms extending
Over a wind-strewn bed
Where lay her valiant dead,
And saw her turn with the disconsolate who weep
Over the form asleep.
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