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Poem by Katharine Lee Bates
MUST I, who walk alone, come on it still, This Puck of plants The wise would do away with, The sunshine slants To play with, Our wee, gold-dusty flower, the yellow clover, Which once in Parting for a time That then seemed long, Ere time for you was over, We sealed our own? Do you remember yet, O Soul beyond the stars, Beyond the uttermost dim bars Of space, Dear Soul, who found earth sweet, Remember by love's grace, In dreamy hushes of the heavenly song, How suddenly we halted in our climb, Lingering, reluctant, up that farthest hill, Stooped for the blossoms closest to our feet, And gave them as a token Each to Each, In lieu of speech, In lieu of words too grievous to be spoken, Those little, gypsy, wondering blossoms wet With a strange dew of tears? So it began, This vagabond, unvalued yellow clover, To be our tenderest language. All the years It lent a new zest to the summer hours, As each of us went scheming to surprise The other with our homely, laureate flowers. Sonnets and odes Fringing our daily roads. Can amaranth and asphodel Bring merrier laughter to your eyes? Oh, if the Blest, in their serene abodes, Keep any wistful consciousness of earth, Not grandeurs, but the childish ways of love, Simplicities of mirth, Must follow them above With touches of vague homesickness that pass Like shadows of swift birds across the grass. Beneath some foreign arch of sky, How many a time the rover You or I, For life oft sundered look from look, And voice from voice, the transient dearth Schooling my soul to brook This distance that no messages may span, Would chance Upon our wilding by a lonely well, Or drowsy watermill, Or swaying to the chime of convent bell, Or where the nightingales of old romance With tragical contraltos fill Dim solitudes of infinite desire; And once I joyed to meet Our peasant gadabout A trespasser on trim, seigniorial seat, Twinkling a saucy eye As potentates paced by. Our golden cord! our soft, pursuing flame From friendship's altar fire! How proudly we would pluck and tame The dimpling clusters, mutinously gay! How swiftly they were sent Far, far away On journeys wide, By sea and continent, Green miles and blue leagues over, From each of us to each, That so our hearts might reach, And touch within the yellow clover, Love's letter to be glad about Like sunshine when it came! My sorrow asks no healing; it is love; Let love then make me brave To bear the keen hurts of This careless summertide, Ay, of our own poor flower, Changed with our fatal hour, For all its sunshine vanished when you died; Only white clover blossoms on your grave.
Katharine Lee Bates
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