Olive Tilford Dargan


Path Flower - Poem by Olive Tilford Dargan

A red-cap sang in Bishop's wood,
   A lark o'er Golder's lane,
As I the April pathway trod
   Bound west for Willesden.

At foot each tiny blade grew big
   And taller stood to hear,
And every leaf on every twig
   Was like a little ear.

As I too paused, and both ways tried
   To catch the rippling rain, --
So still, a hare kept at my side
   His tussock of disdain, --

Behind me close I heard a step,
   A soft pit-pat surprise,
And looking round my eyes fell deep
   Into sweet other eyes;

The eyes like wells, where sun lies too,
   So clear and trustful brown,
Without a bubble warning you
   That here's a place to drown.

"How many miles?" Her broken shoes
   Had told of more than one.
She answered like a dreaming Muse,
   "I came from Islington."

"So long a tramp?" Two gentle nods,
   Then seemed to lift a wing,
And words fell soft as willow-buds,
   "I came to find the Spring."

A timid voice, yet not afraid
   In ways so sweet to roam,
As it with honey bees had played
   And could no more go home.

Her home! I saw the human lair,
   I heard the huckster's bawl,
I stifled with the thickened air
   Of bickering mart and stall.

Without a tuppence for a ride,
   Her feet had set her free.
Her rags, that decency defied,
   Seemed new with liberty.

But she was frail. Who would might note
   The trail of hungering
That for an hour she had forgot
   In wonder of the Spring.

So shriven by her joy she glowed
   It seemed a sin to chat.
(A tea-shop snuggled off the road;
   Why did I think of that?)

Oh, frail, so frail! I could have wept, --
   But she was passing on,
And I but muddled, "You'll accept
   A penny for a bun?"

Then up her little throat a spray
   Of rose climbed for it must;
A wilding lost till safe it lay
   Hid by her curls of rust;

And I saw modesties at fence
   With pride that bore no name;
So old it was she knew not whence
   It sudden woke and came;

But that which shone of all most clear
   Was startled, sadder thought
That I should give her back the fear
   Of life she had forgot.

And I blushed for the world we'd made,
   Putting God's hand aside,
Till for the want of sun and shade
   His little children died;

And blushed that I who every year
   With Spring went up and down,
Must greet a soul that ached for her
   With "penny for a bun!"

Struck as a thief in holy place
   Whose sin upon him cries,
I watched the flowers leave her face,
   The song go from her eyes.

Then she, sweet heart, she saw my rout,
   And of her charity
A hand of grace put softly out
   And took the coin from me.

A red-cap sang in Bishop's wood,
   A lark o'er Golder's lane;
But I, alone, still glooming stood,
   And April plucked in vain;

Till living words rang in my ears
   And sudden music played:
Out of such sacred thirst as hers
   The world shall be remade.

Afar she turned her head and smiled
   As might have smiled the Spring,
And humble as a wondering child
   I watched her vanishing.


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Read poems about / on: april, spring, warning, red, flower, home, pride, sun, music, rose, children, child, rain, song, world, fear, joy, lost, alone, shopping



Poem Submitted: Saturday, January 4, 2003



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