April Airs: A Book of New England Lyrics

by Bliss Carman


 

A PORTRAIT

A.M.M.


 

BEHOLD her sitting in the sun
This lovely April morn,
As eager with the breath of life
As daffodils new-born!
A priestess of the toiling earth,
5
Yet kindred to the spheres,
A touch of the eternal spring
Is over all her years.

No fashion frets her dignity,
Untrammeled, debonair;

10
A fold of lace about her throat
Falls from her whitening hair.
A seraph visiting the earth
Might wear that fearless guise,
The heartening regard of such
15
All-comprehending eyes.

How comes she by preëminence,
Desired, beloved, revered?
Heroic living gained those heights
Through ills she never feared.

20
A spirit kindly as the dew
And daring as a flame,
With a distinguished, reckless wit
No eighty years could tame.

A mother of the Spartan strain,

25
She held self-rule and sway,
And single-handed braved the world
And bore the prize away.
No task too humble for her skill,
No worthy way too long;
30
She filled her work with ecstasy
And crowned it with a song.

The treasures she most dearly prized
Were of the rarest kind—
A gentle fortitude of soul

35
And honesty of mind.
To feed, to clothe, to teach, to cheer,
To guard and guide and save—
These were her fine accomplishments,
To these her best she gave.
40

With ringing word and instant cure
She draws from far and near
The gay, the witty, the forlorn,
Priest, artist, beggar, seer.
Unhesitant an sure they come,
45
Hearing the human call,
As of a mighty motherhood
That understands them all.

Ungrudging, without grief, she lives
Each charged potential hour,

50
Holding her loftiness of aim
With agelessness of power.
Immortal friendship, great with years!
She shames the faltering,
And heartens every struggling hope,
55
Like hyacinths in spring!