Pine, Rose and Fleur de Lis

by Susie Frances Harrison


 

THE FIRST CHILL


 

Did you not think last night that the summer was over?
That gone were the bees and the broom, and that gone was the
  clover,
That dead were the flowers in your delicate basket of wire,
That dead were the trailing tongues of the creeper’s autumnal
  fire?

Did you not say to me then that a frost must be falling,
5
Ere we both saw on the terrace of your sweet mother calling?
Did we not stand there together and gaze at the gray
That frightened the flushing rose from the cheek of the dying day?

Together, and yet apart, while your roses were paling,
And you grew cold and white, and I too, and all sweet speech

10
  seemed failing;
If I spoke, I offended, or thought so; so what could I do
But be silent, nor risk the chance of further offence against you?

Did I not offer, sweetheart, that time when we tarried.
To put on a gossamer bit of a wrap that you carried?
Did you not calmly regard me as one who ignores,

15
Just turn without word or smile, and so leave me, and vanish
  indoors?

Did we not think in truth that the summer was over,
That gone were the bees and the broom, and that gone was the
  clover?
While you sat with your feet to the fire, I walked till I grew
Half-frozen, half hating the world, the climate, myself, and—you.
20

But now what has happened, that after the wintriest weather,
The heart of each bird is as light as the tiniest feather?
The sun is as warm and the grass is ass green as in June,
And we sing with our hearts and lips, like the birds to a summer
tune.

Sweetheart! Do thou sob no more! If the love were at ending,
25
If the fault and the fever alike were both beyond mending,
Then might you weep like the woman of tears that I know,
But not when I strain you thus—not, not when I hold you so!

What a mistake, love, to think that the summer was over!
I fancy I saw a bee, and I’m sure I smelt clover—

30
Swear to forget, child, the sudden, the menacing chill
That darkened and startled the world and our hearts last night on
  the hill!

 


 

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