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Poem by Rose Terry Cooke


A Complaint


A hot noon filled the Autumn sky
So still, the pines forgot to sigh,
But breathed out odors graciously
Along the slumbering air:
Sweet scents of harvest-gathered grain,
And heavy fruit that wasps profane,
With dead leaves drying on the plain,
Made silence soft and rare.
 
There, underneath an evergreen,
Whose boughs against a hill-side lean,
I lingered, wrapt in thoughts serene,
Half bordering on sleep.
When gently on mine idleness
Stole a low murmur, not distress,
But monotoned to plaintiveness,
Nor sad enough to weep.
 
And without thought I had a sense
Of flowers that live in innocence,
Set in the desert's shadow dense,
But die, ah me! alone.
Their pale lips breathed, for perfume, song;
Confiding unto speech their wrong,
And, for that I had loved them long,
To me they made their moan.
 
A purple orchis by a brook
Began,--"I see not from my nook
Aught but the summer skies, that look
Alike on bud and flower.
Now I am fading, who will know,
With grief that from the earth I go?
Who loved me? still the ripples flow
And laugh from hour to hour."
 
Then a wild-rose complains of death,
That chills the sweetness of her breath,
And more that no clear echo saith
To clearer tones,--"Farewell!"
And all the blossoms joined her plaint,
Till the first murmur, sad and faint,
Made in my ear a loud complaint,
Yet sweet as chimes a bell.
 
Then I made answer,--"Beauty grows
For beauty's sake, though no man knows
The hidden place of its repose,
It is not vain nor waste.
Dear flowers, for you the wild-birds sing,
Shy fawns behold your blossoming,
And poets, dreaming, at your spring
Of visioned sweetness taste.
 
"And Love that bent the arching sky
Your fair creations satisfy."
Then, sliding into daylight, I
Turned my awakened eyes,
And lo! the voice as silent, flowers
Stood round me smiling as the hours,
Content enough with sun and showers,
Who mocked me with their cries? 



Rose Terry Cooke


Rose Terry Cooke's other poems:
  1. Ebb and Flow
  2. Samson Agonistes
  3. Trailing Arbutus
  4. May
  5. The Iconoclast


Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • William Wordsworth A Complaint ("There is a changeЧand I am poor")
  • Henry Farley A Complaint ("TO see a strange outlandish fowl")

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