Pine, Rose and Fleur de Lis

by Susie Frances Harrison


 

APRIL


 

While others hug the fire, I gladly go,
Blown along beneath April skies to one broad path
That winds away from the town and drops below
A rude plank bridge, to glades that soon shall glow
With violets velvet sheathed, op’d full rath.
5

April—the opal month of all the year,
With pearly skies, and blue, and sudden snows—
The opal April of my thought is here,
And I am happy when a star doth peer
From the brown bed of leaves wherein it grows.
10

I would not touch one downy drooping bud!
The fingers of the wind, alone have power
To give such, life, and soon its peers shall stud
The greening bank that now is caking mud.
I go, return, and wait that magic hour.
15

The eager children throng about the glade,
They do not know the signs, they falter—doubt
There will be flowers, mistrust the cooling shade
That meets them on the wood’s edge, note the fray’d,
Crisp curl’d last winter’s leaves the wind still rout.
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Indeed, it asks for faith, when all the road
Is furrow’d deep in slowly drying ruts,
And farmers gently urge with sparing goad
Their morning teams, conscious of pressing load,
And squirrels count their yet full store of nuts,
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And frosty films on tree and sward are cast,
And rivulets run cold, nor yet too free,
And the old grass is sodden, lump’d and mass’d
On either side the fence, while a March blast
Blows April’s trumpeter in triumphant key.
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Afar stretch fields exceeding grey and wan,
Of sterile stubble; here are flying leaves,
And clouds of dust the wide highway upon.
It seems some mid-October morn; all gone
The splendour of the gay autumnal sheaves,
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And only left, the longing for the snow
To veil defect and compensate for loss.
But not a blossom ever seeks to blow
Until the time be ripe. Let rains but flow,
And stumps shall cushion’d be with emerald moss,
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And every bank shall wear a coronet
Of azure stars and yellow bells; pale plumes
Of slow uncurling greens be rootwise set,
And higher, where the forest parapet
Its fringe of faint new foliage assumes.
45

O! I have felt the high poetic mood
While lingering there, far from the troubled ways
Of duty and desire; have lov’d to brood
For hours in the open air—my faith, my food—
Till seemed to cling around my brow the bays!
50

And I have felt, too, like the vagabond,
Who knows no duty, has but one desire—
To keep the peace with Nature; who, beyond
All envy, sleeps beside some cool clear pond
And sees each morn the flaming sunrise fire
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Bleak hill and budding forest—I would give
Much, in such moods, to drop the life I lead,
All ties, all dear expectances and live
As carelessly as that poor fugitive
Of all demands which now I daily heed.
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Must heed—for dreaming is not doing. Base,
Base should I be to dream my days to death
In this sequester’d glade, where shadows chase
A golden phantom. To each man his place—
He who neglects his, curses with latest breath
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The trend and disposition of his life,
For spells, dew-laden, odorous, warm and soft,
Like these sweet April omens, purely rife
With soothing promise of an end to strife,
Are dangerous. No more then, high aloft,
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I lift ecstatic eyes to sheer bright blue,
Or seek the curled cup beneath my foot.
I wander homeward, longed for by the few
Who love me, loving, too, the work I do—
See—I have brought them one arbutus root!
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