Modernist Canadian Poets
Dreams in Your Heart
24th Apr 2014Posted in: Modernist Canadian Poets 0

[2 blank pages]
DREAMS IN YOUR HEART
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DREAMS IN YOUR
HEART

EDNA JACQUES
AUTHOR OF
“My Kitchen Window,” “Drifting Soil” and
“Wide Horizons”

Copyright, Canada, 1937,
by
THOMAS ALLEN
Printed and Bound in Canada
Press of the Hunter–Rose Co., Ltd., Toronto
[unnumbered page]

LOVINGLY DEDICATED TO MY
DEAR FRIEND,
NELLIE L. McCLUNG
“I’ll take my friends the way they come
The wear and tear of battles fought,
The blessed vision of the stars.
I want my friends to be of earth,
Just made of common human clay
The kind that you can love and use
That’s not too good for every day.”

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CONTENTS

 

PAGE

I Am Poetry

3

A Lovely World

4

It Must Be Spring

5

Resurrection

6

Speech

7

To An Abandoned Farmhouse

8

Faith

9

My Neighbour’s Clothes-line

10

Red

11

The Opera Singer

12

How Have You Grown?

13

My Daughter’s Growing Up

14

Knitting

15

Oak Trees

16

Picnics

17

An Attic

18

The Mother

19

An Everyday Hero

20

To a Little Boy on a Beach

21

They’re Just Like Us

22

Small Things

23

The Coronation

24

Her Way

25

The Writer

26

My Body a Servant

27

The Little Cobbler

28

Not For Me

29

A Loving Heart

30

Sparrows

31

To An Old Chinaman

32

The Prisoner

33

[page vii]
These Are The Things

34

Young Girls Hiking

35

Tied to a Job

36

An Old Barn

37

Old Farmer’s Talk

38

Moving Into a New House

39

Another Day

40

O Farmer

41

Companionship

42

Field and Fen

43

Colors In Nature

44

A-Venturing

45

His First Girl

46

Clouds

47

The Upper Room

48

In Hospital

49

War

50

Give Thanks

51

The Little Children

52

So Long

54

Cheerful Folk

55

Sermons in Stones

56

The Old Grandmother

57

Prayer For the Blind

58

A Modern Martha

59

The Immigrant

60

To a Young Girl

61

Shirley

62

Stars

63

Spring Indeed

64

The Horns of Elfland

65

A Vacant Lot

66

In a Garden

67

She Planted Trees

68

[page viii]
In a Sudden Cold Snap

69

The Spoken Word

70

Spring Cleaning

71

The Stay-At-Homes

72

Birds Nest Building

73

Everyday Miracles

74

The Birthday Party

75

My Soul Delights

76

Clover

77

Lessons From the Prairie

78

[page ix]

DREAMS IN YOUR HEART
[unnumbered page]

I Am Poetry

I am the Poetry of earth, the thoughts
   Of wise and gentle folk,—the writing down
Of dreams and hopes and all that laughter is,
   The failure of a thousand lives—the crown
Of thorns upon a brow, the giving up
   Of pleasured ease, to drink Toil’s weary cup.

I am the sunlight on a lonely hill
   Where no one ever comes...the poverty
Of earth, rude hovels in the shivering night, 
   All these dark things are gathered up in me
And made to shine, as light reflected far
   Glows through the crystal radiance of a star.

I am the songs of earth...the lullaby
   The dirge...the mourner’s hymn...the battle song
The Voice of David singing to his flock,
   All these good things are mine, for dreams belong
Only to us who gather with our hands
   The strength and majesty of quiet lands. [page 3]

A Lovely World

It’s such a lovely world today,
   With beast and bird and creeping things,
A caterpillar’s glossy fur, 
   The glint of little shining wings.
I often wonder how God though
   Of all the wondrous things He wrought.

A beetle’s back...a spider’s legs
   Letting his silken ladder down.
A fawn’s sweet face, his shiny nose, 
   A marmot striped in tan and brown. 
Red breasted robins on the lawn, 
   The smell of lumber newly sawn. 

The warm unmoving air of fall
   A clutch of brown eggs in a nest
A child’s glad body clean and fair
   Her being filled with life’s sweet zest, 
How could Time drag or moments pall
   Knowing the wonder of it all. [page 4]

It Must Be Spring

It must be spring, for David has a kite
   Although the wind is cold and nothing growing, 
But this gay harbinger is in the sky
   And far above the house–tops gayly blowing.

David is such a little boy, and lives
   Just two doors up the street, and always trying
Some new device to floats upon the air
   An aeroplane...a kite...a white flag flying.

There must be some deep instinct in his heart
   Some ’prisoned thing that seeks the sky’s vast freedom.
(God knows the lonely trails his feet will follow, 
   The countries where his little kite will lead him.)

Perhaps some day he’ll chart a hundred airways, 
   Write on the sky his name in letter glowing.
But just today he is a little boy
   Sailing his kite the way the wind is blowing. [page 5]

Resurrection

The light has come again to eyes
   That once were bleak and bare,
You know that wounded beaten look
   Unhappy people wear, 
As if their souls were dead within
   And Life not worth the cost,
(She used to grope amid the days
   A tired spirit, lost.)

But now some hidden source of light
   Pours through the smothering dark
Her very being seems alive
   As if some vital spark
Glowed at the center of herself
   To heal and bless and give
The Fire of eternal peace
   That taught her how to live.

And from her presence seems to come
   A clean reviving flow
Of happiness and perfect health
   As radiant as snow.
A well of everlasting joy
   A purity and grace
As if a light within her soul
   Was shining on her face. [page 6]

Speech

Of all creation, Man was given speech,
   The dumb beasts never knew the gift of words, 
And yet the very stones in pastures preach, 
   And there are sermons in the song of birds.

There is no voice in all the growing things
   No utterance in the quiet strength of trees,
But I have heard the message that they bring
   And listened to the melody in these.

There is no language in the sober ground
   No cadence in the wind and yet I know
The very air is filled with rushing sound, 
   And there is poetry in falling snow.

There is no eloquence in the wide plain
   And yet the very silence is a song, 
There are no lilting words to falling rain
   And yet it beats a tattoo like a gong. 

For only until Man was given speech, 
   The beasts are dumb...the flowers have no voice, 
Yet hills and valleys shout their loving praise
   And all the places of the earth rejoice. [page 7]

To An Abandoned Farmhouse

It stands forlorn, abandoned to the wind,
   Weeds choke the stable yard as if they sought
To hide the little paths that once were there, 
   To cover any work that Man had wrought
And bring the land once more beneath the sway
   Of sun and slanting rain...and the wind’s way.

What dream lie shattered in that sagging barn
   What visions he beheld there with his team, 
Resting at headlands in the pulsing noon
   He leaned against the plow and let his dream
Hold sway, and saw beyond the prairie rim
   A bright new kingdom opening out for him.

Perchance he saw with eyes grown shining clear
   The home that was to be, the heartsome sight
Of little children running down the lane
   To greet the father coming home at night.
Fields golden unto harvest, spring’s release
   A home where Love might safely dwell...and peace.

And now the old house leans against the wind
   With broken windows sagging beam and sill
A piece of whiffletree hangs on the barn,
   A few old willow trees against a hill
Make lonely music as they gently sway
   Playing a requiem to a happier day. [page 8]

Faith

A woman planting a shrivelled seed, 
   A child with a painted toy, 
The warm sap bound in the root of a weed
   And the first clean love of a boy.

A fisherman casting his nets in the sea, 
   A sail–boat breasting the tide.
A bird’s long flight from the sunny South
   ’Ere winter is set aside.

A farmer cleaning his wheat for seed, 
   The song of the meadow lark, 
Potatoes deep in a cellar bin
   Sprouting there in the dark.

A mother leaving the latch–string out
   Through years of sun and rain
Knowing somehow in her mother heart
   Her boy will come home again.

The faith of a leper healed his wounds, 
   Faith made the blind to see.
And the same clean faith in a sapling small
   Wrought the miracle of a tree. [page 9]

My Neighbour’s Clothes–Line

There are sheets and pillow cases
   And a dozen towels or so, 
And little dresses blowing out
   Like flowers in a row.
A table–cloth...a baby’s shawl
   A quilt hung out to air,
And looking at her line I see
   A hundred stories there.

I know she loves her beds to be
   As fresh as April skies,
The dresses for her little girl
   Are blue, to match her eyes.
The table–cloth has little sprigs
   Of daisies ’broidered on
As if she plucked the tiny ones
   That grew about the lawn.

Her aprons are so bright and gay, 
   I know she loves to cook, 
She makes a game of everything
   Like people in a book.
And so her clothes–line is to me
   A kind of study chart,
That tells me all the lovely things
   She dreams within her heart. [page 10]

Red

Red is a challenge flung before the eye
   A gay flag flying in the summer sky, 
A gypsy’s colour warm and rich and strong.
   Only the gallant folk to RED belong, 
Courage and gayety are theirs, and mirth
   They are the chosen people of the earth.

Red are the poppies in a woman’s hair
   The scarlet slippers royal children wear,
A crimson coat, a fruited cherry tree, 
   Red sails above the blueness of the sea, 
A fire bedded down until it glows
   With all the flaming colours of a rose.

Red is the loveliest colour of the seven
   (I wonder if they’ll have much red in heaven)
Red carpets in the aisles...bright curtains drawn
   And Christmas trees with scarlet candles on.
I know the streets are fair, but Oh I pray
   There will be crimson roses Heaven’s way. [page 11]

The Opera Singer

She sings—and Oh how lovely is her face
   There seems a radiance all about the place
She poises like a bird to strike a note,
   (Flaunting the laces of her petticoat)
Steps out with dainty feet and saucy curls
   Making a curtsey as she gayly whirls.

She sings...and all the world about her seems
   Filled with the silver radiance of dreams
She lends enchantment to the poor and old
   Gilds every moment with her voice of gold.
Swinging in rhythm to the music’s beat
   Like pulses singing in her happy feet.

She sings...and listening hearts are lifted up
   To drink the ecstasy from Joy’s sweet cup, 
Visions and dreams once more are part of them
   They stoop in faith to touch Life’s shining hem, 
Oh Lord we thank Thee for her voice that brings
   to lonely hearts the peace of perfect things. [page 12]

How Have You Grown?

How have you grown this year? Your soul I mean, 
   How many inches would your measure show
If someone stood you up against the door, 
   (Did no one ever say that hearts must grow)
Or if they would shrivel up and die like weeds
   Unless you watered them with loving deeds.

How have you grown this year? And has there been
   No quiet growth of tap and seeking root,
No eager reaching out of branch or vine
   Or rich fulfillment of the perfect fruit?
Old wood grows bitter if the sap is dry
   And if the heart is bad the old trees die.

How have you grown? In tenderness and love
   To those who stumble in a narrow place
Have you lent kindly ears to want and woe
   Walked ever with a shining inner grace
Joined heart and feeling in an holy troth
   To mark the inches in your spirit’s growth. [page 13]

My Daughter’s Growing Up

My daughter’s growing up, and now
   She’s educating me.
I smile a bit behind her back
   She works so seriously
To sort of bring me up to date, 
   But I’m afraid she started late.

According to this new regime
   I’ll have to change my ways, 
(I’m too old-fashioned as I am
   To suit these modern days.)
I must go in for fads and frills
   Be on the look–out for new thrills.

And I just laugh, remembering
   The way I used to be,
I thought she should act seventeen
   When she was only three.
I wanted her to be just so,
   As many mothers do, you know.

But now the tables have been turned
   And I must toe the line
Live up to all these new demands
   To suit this girl of mine.
(But underneath it all, I’ll be
   The very same old–fashioned ME). [page 14]

Knitting

She purls and plains and slips a stitch,
   Without a hinderance or hitch
As placidly she slowly rocks
   Knitting a pair of little socks,
Her shadow swinging to and fro
   In rhythm with the radio.

She counts her stitches half aloud
   And joins the laughter of a crowd
Of people half way ’round the world,
   The tiny stocking plain and purled
Grows slowly into shape and size
   Right there before my wondering eyes.

How lovely thus that we can share
   The shining highways of the air, 
Feel the warm reaching out of hands
   Of kindly folk in other lands, 
The cadence of a voice that sings
   Of peace and love and happy things.

Oh may this listening unite
   Us all across the world tonight, 
Knitting us closer to each other
   Bring us nearer one another.
The strands invisible yet there
   Linking the Highways of the Air. [page 15]

Oak Trees

Oak trees, how stately do they grow,
   Like old dowagers in a row,
They have a pride too, I declare
   You’d almost think they were aware,
Of their importance, if you please
   Their prestige in the world of trees.

Whene’er I see a spreading oak
   I think of common sturdy folk
Of an old room with a beamed ceiling
   And corner cupboards just revealing,
Blue plates and platters standing up
   And the pale half–moon of a cup.

I think of ships ghost white with foam
   Headed down the long seas for home, 
Their oaken beams and creaking sides
   Straining against the wind and tides,
Clean breasted as a bird in flight
   Cleaving the frosty air of night.

I think of Druid priests of old
   Of all the ancient stories told
Of knights in armour, ladies fair
   Of little cottages...clean air,
Where oak trees spread their branches wide
   And grow in majesty and pride. [page 16]

Picnics

To picnic on a sun–warmed beach
   Is to bring heaven within reach,
For eating has a special savor
   With wind and sunshine for a flavor, 
And tea brewed strong and piping hot, 
   Is heaven in an earthen pot.

A clean white beach that circles wide
   Glistening and salty from the tide, 
Sea–gulls above the white cliffs calling
   And o’er us golden sunlight falling.
(A sandwich in one hand, and tea
   Balance with fear upon your knee).

A white sail skimming o’er the blue
   A fisherman whose only crew
Is an old dog...how still he waits
   To watch his master fix the baits,
(Riding the seas in sun and fog
   A man companioned by a dog.)

So at a picnic we can taste
   The tang of all the tumbling waste
Of seas, the magic of the air,
   Mothers and children everywhere,
All paradise within your reach
   Eating your supper at the beach. [page 17]

An Attic

An attic on a rainy day
   Is such a treasure trove, I swear
You’ll find a hundred household gods
   Covered with dust and cobwebs there.
Old relics of a by–gone age
   A dusty picture of the Queen,
A set of books that someone left,
   A wedding suit of Dad’s...turned green.

A dozen broken bits of toys
   A petticoat with yellowed lace, 
A rocking–horse without a tail, 
   Some everlastings in a vase. 
Pictures of people long since dead,
   In wide old–fashioned frames of gilt.
A cradle with one rocker gone
   Covered with an old patch–work quilt.

Not worth a cent, I know, and yet
   I love to browse on rainy days
Among old treasures of the past, 
   Walk for a while down Memory’s ways.
The raindrops patter on the roof,
   Like tiny music of the spheres
While I in dreamy retrospect
   Walk in the paths of by–gone years. [page 18]

The Mother

She is so tender to this crippled one
   This little firstling of her tiny flock, 
Who bears in his small body ragged scars
   Of some pre–natal suffering or shock, 
And so she mothers him with tender care
   Gives him a special mention in her prayer.

His face is wistful with an older look
   The look that suffering makes in human eyes, 
He lives in such a different world and has
   A childish understanding old and wise, 
As if he drank from some deep hidden spring
   And could be hurt no more by anything.

Yet when I look at other little ones
   Prodded and pushed through life by fear and hate, 
I turn again to his dear, happy face
   Knowing that his is much the kinder fate. 
(For God knew this and made his twisted limb
   A refuge in a bitter world for him.) [page 19]

An Everyday Hero

I used to think a hero was
   A sort of shining knight
Who always drew a golden sword
   To battle for the right.
Had a fine horse with trappings gay
   And rode to battle far way.

But now I know the little man
   Who lives next door to me, 
Who works so hard to earn his bread
   And keep his family.
Has courage just as true and fine
   As any prince of royal line.

I doubt me if he ever heard
   Of knights in armour grand.
He only asks a little job
   And a small piece of land, 
Where he can grow a bit of stuff
   Fresh vegetables and fruit enough.

And so instead of shining swords
   He’ll take a hoe and spade
To dig around the garden patch
   Of the little home he’s made.
And when the flowers come with spring
   Is happier than any king. [page 20]

To A Little Boy On A Beach

What majesty of sun–filled space,
What peace within this small lagoon
The salty wind against his face.
His playmates just a mongrel dog,
A ragged end of cedar log.

And yet on this rude ship he rides
In fancy all the seven seas,
His red cheeks freshened by the sun
His body cooled by every breeze.
The smooth–ribbed sand a carpet spread,
The sky a canopy o’er head.

Life may hold evil days for him
Hardship and suffering be his lot,
But he will keep against his heart
The fragrance of this lovely spot.
A sweet oasis green and fair
Sacred and healing as a prayer. [page 21]

They’re Just Like Us

They’re just like us, all blood is one
   The savage loves his tiny son
With just the same warm rush of pride,
   The Indian cherishes his bride, 
A heathen leads his little band
   To shelter in some distant land.

Into the hearts of all these folk
   God, the eternal Father spoke, 
And gave to everyone His grace
   The shining image of His face,
The simple code of right and wrong
   A love of eventide and song.

The savor of good food, the feel
   Of warm enjoyment in a meal, 
A love of home though bare and crude, 
   A mother with her tiny brood
Getting them settled for the night
   In the safe glow of firelight.

If we could only realize
   All blood is one before God’s eyes
The children of His loving heart, 
   Though dwelling all the world apart.
How could a world make war on these
   Whom Christ had blessed upon His knees. [page 22]

Small Things

O may I dip my pen in kindly ink
   And write of lovely things I saw today, 
Farm buildings in a little friendly clump; 
   A farmer bringing home a load of hay.

I saw an old dog dozing by the barn
   One eye half open, sort of keeping guard
To see that all was well about the place
   No stranger mouching ’round his special yard.

I saw a mother hen with anxious care
   Settle her lively brood beneath her wings
Scoop out a little bed beside the stack
   And talk to them in drowsy murmurings.

I saw three children coming home from school
   Gay laughter on their lips and on their faces
The healthy tan of wind and prairie suns
   The shining wholesomeness of country places.

All these plain things I saw with eyes grown misty
   At the dear loveliness of common days,
The cricket’s tiny song above the stubble
   The friendly happiness of country ways. [page 23]

The Coronation

There will be pageantry and wealth and power
   Love of their country...pride of ancient birth, 
Old London throbbing to her mighty hour,
   Where meet the kings and princes of the earth.
The scarlet of a flag, the flash of swords
   The stately passing of her mighty lords.

There will be humble folk in quiet dress
   Lining the streets to see the King go by,
The lilt of music in the sunny air, 
   A thousand crimson banners in the sky, 
Gay laughter...little children tenderly
   Lifted above the crowd so they can see.

And under all the pageantry and pride
   The sturdy heart of England true and great
Beats out its quiet round of destiny, 
   And far beneath the power of Church and State
The little common working fellow stands
   And holds the Might of England in his hands. [page 24]

Her Way

(My Mother)

She couldn’t put in words,
That her small yard became somehow
A sanctuary for birds.
She’d sweep the walk in winter time
And put out meat and bread
It warmed her heart with joy to see
These tiny people fed.

It was her way of spreading love
That children came to know
A welcome waited for them there
Whenever they might go.
A cookie jar, a doughnut crock
On the low pantry shelves
Where very hungry little folk
Could go and help themselves.

It was her way of saying things
When words were hard to find
To voice the tenderness that filled
Her loving heart and mind.
For deeds speak louder after all
I wish that more would start
And take this way of showing folks
The love within their hearts. [page 25]

The Writer

To struggle on though wearied unto death
   To hold you dream as sacred as your breath,
To cleave unto your goal through storm and strife
   To make this shining thing your very life,
More than all else the world can offer you
   Keeping the faith, to your own gift be true.

For one swift breathless moment to attain
   A foothold on some higher, cleaner plane
Then turn you back to the dull universe
   And put your shining vision into verse, 
That others watching though they may not reach
   May see their dreams reflected in your speech.

To plod through darkness seeking for a light, 
   To toil long house in the dead of night,
Seeking a word...a sentence or a phrase
   And then all suddenly it seems to blaze, 
Like a swift meteor for a moment caught
   Lighting the tangles fibre of your thought.

So must he toil who serves the fickle Muse
   Putting his strength and talents into use, 
Making a web of beauty sheer and fine
   Dear earthly things but touched with the divine,
A song of people dull and commonplace
   Touched into radiance by special grace. [page 26]

My Body A Servant

Small hands that serve me with such willing grace
   You type and sew and do a hundred things
Draw music from white keys, make tiny frocks,
   The magic in your fingers often brings
Me richest blessing—yet I never praise
   Just take for granted all your willing ways.

Feet that I drive with such relentless force, 
   On stony pavements, all your freedom bound
In hard hot leather shoes with stilted heels, 
   (Do you remember then the cool, clean ground
The feel of dew–wet grass, the furrows touch
   Warm pasture fields and little sloughs and such?)

Heart, lungs and stalwart back and thinking brain
   Such cheerful servants at my spirit’s call
Life’s warm blood throbbing through the quiet veins,
   I marvel at the wonder of it all,
And thank you, hands and feet so willingly,
   For the warm temple that you keep for ME. [page 27]

The Little Cobbler

The little cobbler where I go
   Preached me a sermon just on shoes
Holding one up against the light
   He showed me just how folks abuse
Their feet by buying shoes too tight
   It seems that no one gets them right.

This one wears heels too high, now look
   She tilts along and all her weight
Comes on her toes (poor suffering things)
   And this one has a sideways gait
Because her feet are flat and wide
   And they just burst out at the side.

Now this one wears a number five
   (She really ought to wear a seven)
But style is style and so her feet
   Sigh for some lovely cobbler’s heaven
Where shoes are made to really fit.
   No wonder people love to sit.

And I’m no better than the rest
   I must have shoes like other folk,
And so I mince along the street
   Like an old wheel without a spoke,
But when I sit, if I am able,
   I kick mine off beneath the table. [page 28]

Not For Me

Not for me the lonely ways
   Bush or wide unpeopled plain
Dappled meadows of the sea
   Waving miles of growing grain.
I must have the sight and sound
   Of my neighbors close around. 

I have lived so very long
   In the silent, lonely places
Now I want companionship
   And the sight of friendly faces.
As the years creep up on me
   I like human company.

Frontiers call the young and brave,
   Far horizons cast a spell
On the strong and valiant hearted, 
   But I much prefer to dwell
In a little town, where lights
   Twinkle in the street o’nights. [page 29]

A Loving Heart

There are no boundaries for a loving heart,
   East, West, North, South, wherever you may go
You will find gracious women, patient men
   (The precious leaven in a world of woe)
Whose lovely deeds are fragrant as a flower
   Helping some traveller through a lonely hour.

For I have seen a Chinese gard’ner stoop
   To free a struggling pair of tangled wings,
I’ve watched a hard old face grow soft and fair
   Just looking at a caged bird as it sings,
Wondering perhaps if one day he might raise
   His ’prisoned heart in such a song of praise.

A loving heart sees everything with love
   (What spectacles to sit astride your nose)
Hard faces shining in a gentle light
   And sharp mean features colored like a rose.
Would that we all this beauty might behold
   And see through grime and dust the gleam of gold. [page 30]

Sparrows

Brown coated sparrows strung along the wires
   They look for all the world like hooded friars
The lawn a begging bowl for rice and bread
   Where these small pilgrims clamour to be fed.

They ask of Nature only this brown dress,
   (Their souls I know are clothes in loveliness)
Like other poor and lowly of the earth
   The rich and gaudy count them of small worth.

They are such friendly little folk, they chose
   So many things of ours for their own use, 
Small bits of string and yarn, a colored thread
   To weave into a little swaying bed.

They build their mansions close to man’s abode
   Protecting eaves, trees nearest to the road, 
How we would miss the little humble things
   If no brown sparrows told us it was spring. [page 31]

To An Old Chinaman

A pagan in his heart they say
   Ne’er thinks of God the Christian way
I doubt me if he ever heard
   A sermon on the Holy Word.
He doesn’t know salvation’s plan
   This little yellow laundry man.

And yet this son of heathen birth
   Is honest to a farthing’s worth,
Hard working, thrifty, full of fun
   Would lend a hand to anyone,
He has a cheerful happy grin
   That sort of takes the whole world in.

He stands on his old sandled feet
   Where he can look along the street,
And irons shirts the whole day long
   Humming a little Chinese song.
And every time I pass the place
   He has a flower in a vase.

Upon the window sill it stands
   Set there by careful, loving hands,
A little altar shining there,
   A pagan heart, but I declare
God in His wisdom gave a rose
   To speak the language that he knows. [page 32]

The Prisoner

He had loved open fields...the taste of spring
   (The wine of morning in the cup of night)
The scud of clouds...the music of the wind,
   A field of golden stooks was his delight.

Behind the grey–walled place so grim and bare
   Through the wide chinks between the prison bars, 
His eyes are homesick for the sight of land
   Yet looking up he only sees the stars.

I wonder if his pulses stir and beat
   When April warms the fields he used to plow
When high winds keen and call above the wheat
   Where meadow–larks and quail are nesting now.

Does memory wound him like a sabre thrust
   To think of open roads that lure and call, 
Of sunrise on a lonely prairie farm
   Of early snow and hunting in the fall.

Oh may he hear behind his prison walls
   The crunch of wagon wheels...a swinging trace
And give him dreams—Oh God—of summer mornings
   The open road and wind against his face. [page 33]

These Are The Things

These are the things I hold of precious worth,
   Dearer than all the minted gold of earth,
The slow clean rising of the sap in spring
   October’s glad and gracious winnowing.
The stippled meadows in the drowsy non, 
   The far–off lonely crying of a loon.

The cadence of a voice, the sound of words, 
   The mystery behind the flight of birds,
Leisure to think without a sense of strain, 
   To let the winds of peace blow through your brain
Until the worn–out tired cells revive
   And every nerve is flowing and alive.

These are the things that count...a window high
   Where you can feel the nearness of the sky
Leisure to dream, to pause in Life’s mad rush
   Drink at the well of Silence, feel the hush
Behind the little noises of the earth, 
   These are the things I hold of precious worth. [page 34]

Young Girls Hiking

Oh, may the day be bright for them, the road
   A ladder reaching up to meet the sky,
Oh, make their hearts aware of lovely things
   Their ears unstopped to hear the curlew’s cry.

Oh, let them sense the beauty of the day, 
   (They are too young to truly realize
The wide, sweet world, the blue and gentle dusk
   Laid out like tapestry before their eyes).

Oh, keep them young, renew their strength until
   They mount like eagles to the rising sun.
Open their hearts to joy and let them feel
   The quivering tides of life that throb and run.

Oh, may they store safe in their spirit’s vault
   Some of the shining wonder they have known
And ring their lovely day about with stars
   To shine above them when they walk alone. [page 35]

Tied To A Job

His office window looks toward the sea
   And all day long he hears the break of waves, 
The seethe of water when the tides come in
   Filling the little crevices and caves, 
He adds up columns but the figures seem
   To dance before the mirror of his dream.

He watches ships come in, with eyes aglow
   Unload their yawning holds of rice and tea, 
He sees them batten down the hatch again
   And follows then as they put out to sea, 
And dreams of Singapore, of France and Spain, 
   Then sighs and turns back to his work again.

How is it then that sailors dream of home
   Of quiet gardens fringed with ancient trees, 
And little quiet men chained to a desk
   On white–winged galleons ride the seven seas, 
To slake their thirst for Life and mystery
   And dream of countries they will never see. [page 36]

An Old Barn

And old barn leans against a wooden fence
   Sagging beneath its own unsteady weight, 
It has a lonely look as if it mourned
   Was sorry for itself, the bitter fate
That left it shrinking in the autumn night, 
   Like an old face that hides it grief from sight.

The empty mangers yawn, the floors are bare
   A thousand cobwebs hang from sill and beam, 
A piece of harness on a wooden peg, 
   (How proudly once it decked a prancing team).
In the grey twilight ghostly shadows fall
   Across the staunchions of an empty stall.

If it could speak, what tales it might unfold
   Of the warm happy life it once had known, 
The little new–born things...the cloistered dark, 
   The fragrance of alfalfa newly mown, 
The shadowy loft where children love to play
   At hide and seek the whole long summer day.

And now it leans against a wooden fence
   Like an old man who leans against a cane
Its windows leer like old discouraged eyes
   Into the dreary darkness of a lane.
A kindly tree leans over it and tries
   To hide its sorrow from unfriendly eyes. [page 37]

Old Farmer’s Talk

Old farmers meeting at the corner store, 
   Talk of their crops, of happenings close at hand,
Of lambing–time and spring and clover fields,
   The need of rain upon the seeded land.

There is a quietness about their toil,
   The peace of rain–sweet meadows in their talk,
The strength of fields is in their quiet hands,
   The patience of the little homing flock.

Forth from the good clean earth they bring their food, 
   Fruit of their labor, symbols of their toil,
Theirs is the blessedness of work well done,
   The glowing healthy kinship of the soil.

And when they meet they talk of common things
   The rising sap, the sound of birds in flight,
They carry all the world in their strong hands,
   And lay them down to quiet sleep at night. [page 38]

Moving Into A New House

Into this little house, may I not being
   The seeds of discord, or of anything
That would deface the quiet charm it wears,
   The wide, deep fireplace, the easy chairs,
The windows have a quaint old–fashioned look,
   Like tiny casements patterned from a book.

Into this little house, let me bring song,
   Laughter and happiness to it belong,
The walls were fashioned for delight, I know,
   The whole house has a home–like, rosy glow,
Like an old lamp that sheds its cheerful light
   Into the friendly darkness of the night.

Into this little house, Oh Lord, I pray,
   Thou wilt be guest of ours, for every day
—Being alone—we’ll feel the need of Thee,
   Oh may the oil of gladness burn for me,
Make it a home in every kindly sense,
   A small world bounded by our tiny fence. [page 39]

Another Day

Another day to live for good or ill;
   Another day with empty hours to fill
With the rich coin of happiness and joy, 
   To take the minted gold of Love’s alloy
And use it in a wise and tender way
   For every one who needs its help today.

To fill the hours with gratitude, to take
   Old, threadbare, mean, discouraged rooms, and make
Them shine with gladness, like an aureole, 
   To give the empty house a living soul,
That all who come may feel its quiet grace,
   Like the soft glow of an old, lovely face.

To go companioned like a shining knight,
   To hold the thought above me like a light
That here is all the scope I’ll ever need,
   (A fire to tend...a little mouth to feed).
What more has Life to offer, tell me, pray,
   Than the full splendor of a woman’s day. [page 40]

O Farmer

O Farmer tell me how the rose,
   Its own full time and season knows.
And how a swallow on the wing
   Keeps its eternal tryst with spring,
And travelling in some star hung height
   Knows the same garden to alight.

Or how a bulb on a dark shelf
   Will feel within its tiny self
The stirring of Life’s vital spark,
   And reach out fingers in the dark
To find the warmth and light it needs,
   The substance upon which it feeds.

And would you answer, if you please,
   How weather–beaten, twisted trees
Could send out flowers, frail as lace
   To glorify my shabby place.
Their waxy blossoms glow and sway
   Like lanterns on a holiday.

Ah no, you could not answer me,
   It is not given man to see
Beyond this narrow, earth–hung veil,
   I only know Love shall prevail
And, somewhere in eternal bliss
   I shall find answer to all this. [page 41]

Companionship

There is companionship in many things
   A lovely room with flowers on the sill,
The sight of clouds adrift against the sky.
   Old twisted trees against a windy hill.

No one need ever dwell with loneliness
   Who sees the break of waves upon a beach,
Or walk forlorn while there are blind to lead
   Or little backward children you could teach.

How often is a lonely meal made sweet,
   By using dishes that your mother had,
An old chair seems to fold you in its arms
   And hold again the quiet touch of Dad.

Or we may walk companioned by the great,
   The wealth of ages is at our command,
The beautiful and lovely of the earth
   Have left their shining foot–prints in the sand

There is companionship in walls and floors,
   Healing in the old bark of weathered trees,
For I shall never walk forlorn again
   Or live in lonely rooms...while I have these. [page 42]

Field and Fen

God bless the little life of field and fen
   That goes its ordered way apart from men,
The instinct of a bird for homing flight,
   Frail nicotine that only blooms at night.

The soft plush of a caterpillar’s coat,
   The scarlet wonder of a robin’s throat,
A small ant struggling with its clumsy load
   In the hot dust of any country road.

A cricket sings with all his little might
   His ageless harvest song...the linnet’s flight
Is patterned on the sky, a moment there
   Suspended like a cross upon the air.

A poppy forms its tiny cup for seeds,
   Frost paints a little wayside mat of weeds
Into a gaudy carpet rich and gay
   Where some poor wandering soul might kneel to pray.

Such little things...and yet how we would miss
   The tiny presence of dear things like this,
The drift of smoke, the scent of apple trees,
   And every day is rich because of these. [page 43]

Colors In Nature

    There are no sober colors in the brush that Nature wields, she clothes in gayest red and orange the borders of the fields, she gilds the lily with her brush dipped in the richest cream, and splashes bits of gayest rose along this winding stream.

   She tints the bleeding hearts that droop the reddist shade of all, she tones the lichens down to gray against the garden wall. She even paints the sober moss a sort of vivid green, then puts a layer of lavender like frosting in between.

   She tosses purple asters there to mix with golden rod, she lays a rug of silver grass upon the patient sod, she flings a shawl of crimson sky, above the lonely plain, then veils her handiwork with clouds of slanting silver rain. [page 44]

A–Venturing

Oh, I would go a–venturing
   Along the road to God–knows–where,
I’d be a dusky gypsy bride
   With purple asters in my hair.
I’d ride with Happiness and Joy,
   The sun would make a rug of gold, 
I’d dance at night upon the green
   With jewels in my hand to hold.

Oh, I would go a–venturing
   I’d sail upon the Seven Seas, 
I’d fling my songs against the stars, 
   And mix my laughter with the breeze.
I’d round the Horn where sheeted ghosts
   Of wandering sailors ride the waves,
I’d learn the secrets of the Deep,
   Hidden in rock–bound ocean caves.

Oh, I would go a–venturing
   The world’s wide highways up and down,
But some day I would turn me home
   To little houses of the town.
A cosy fire, warm and red, 
   A table laid with shining ware, 
Clean covers on a silken bed
   And Love to hold and keep me there. [page 45]

His First Girl

He has a girl! ’Tis I—his mother—speaks.
   Young love that only walks amid the peaks
Of happiness, nor dreams that there could be
   Aught for his love but this dear ecstacy, 
This radiance of earth...this sudden shine
   Of stars and hilltops...this dear bread and wine.

Oh, may this girl of his...his first dear love
   Be clean and worthy as the stars above, 
(He is so young for worship) let her know
   That she will set the way his feet will go, 
That as she is, so will all women be, 
   She is his star...his goal...his destiny.

Oh, keep him fine and clean, my clear–eyed lad
   This shining knight, this young Sir Galahad, 
Who faces Life and all that it must hold, 
   Oh may his faith shine forth like minted gold, 
And keep them both...this girl and this dear boy, 
   Gentle and kind and filled with youth’s clean joy. [page 46]

Clouds

Clouds are so many different things, 
   Grey pyramids...an angel’s wings,
White galleons setting out to sea, 
   Their wide sails dipped in mystery.
And sometimes in the midnight blue, 
   A lattice–work where stars shine through.

And sometimes, battlements and towers
   Hang in the quiet sky for hours, 
A temple built of rosy mist
   With walls of fairest amethyst. 
(And once a cloud all shining white
   Received Him from their wondering sight).

So when the clouds are low for me, 
   I look above their grey, and see
The sunshine on the other side
   Knowing that all good things abide, 
For out of clouds in patterns laid
   Are Life’s most splendid sunsets made. [page 47]

The Upper Room

We have an upper room and from its height, 
   The stars seems closer, somehow, in the night, 
Into my bedroom window oft they peep
   Making dear silver shadows while I sleep.
The rain has music, too, that seems to ease
   The weary heart and brings me quiet peace.

Into my sunny room the neighbours bring
   Their knotty problems for unravelling, 
And here we spread them out like tangles skeins
   And sometimes a dear troubled spirit gains
A clearer grasp of life, a wider view, 
   Sees at a glance the wisest thing to do.

And little children bring their tiny care; 
   A doll that lost an eye, a teddy bear
Who needs a stitch or two...and maybe they
   Have grown a wee bit tired of their play, 
And like to rest in this clean atmosphere, 
   Renew their little souls with gladness here.

So in my upper room all set apart, 
   There is a balm and healing for the heart, 
For helping others I can often see
   A wider doorway opening for me, 
For trouble shared and lifted often brings
   A blessed understanding on its wings. [page 48]

In Hospital

On a white bed I learned to pray
   For things I had not counted much, 
I grew to love the white of sheets, 
   A little nurse’s quiet touch.
How pain can make the hours long
   How suffering tends to make us strong.

On a white bed where I could think
   My mind went back across the years
Picking out milestones I had passed
   (A little grave–stone wet with tears)
The place where I had conquered Sin
   The hill I almost failed to win.

On a white bed I came to know
   The sounding brass of earthly things
How little our ambition seems
   When Death draws close on hovering wings, 
How paltry our possessions then, 
   How small the ruling–rods of men.

On a white bed I learned how strong
    The tides of life can draw and pull
Old tired bodies back to earth, 
   (How kind is God...how merciful).
I learned new values as I lay
   Where I had time to think...and pray. [page 49]

War

I have no son to bear his mother’s name
   Beneath the glowing colors of his shield,
No gay, warm–hearted lad to spill his breath
   On any battlefield.

I have no son to sear his boyish heart
   In the red flame of any war–torn sky, 
No Isaac for a sacrifice (no lamb)
   No dear young lad to die.

But I have these...a neighbour boy whose eyes
   Are filled with visions he may never see
The sound of guns that spoke another war
   Still echoing in me.

I have the salt of other women’s tears
   Here on my face and eye I cannot meet, 
Old soldiers limping by (white canes that grope)
   Along this quiet street.

My sister has two sons...my brother one, 
   My friend has three—and when the news is heard
They sit and stare at ridges in the floor, 
   And never say a word. [page 50]

Give Thanks

For apple–sauce and tear and buttered bread, 
   For piled–up hard–wood in the kitchen shed, 
The taste of plums...the rings of growth in trees, 
    Small kindly deeds that no one ever sees.

An old ship wallering home against the tide, 
   A rocky broken cliff where sea–gulls hide, 
A light–house blinking through the fog and rain,
   Old trees that meet above a quiet lane.

For crimson things...a warm, new winter coat, 
   A flag’s gay challende and a robin’s throat, 
Poppies and hollyhocks, the red of briar, 
   The last small flickering embers of a fire.

The warmth of human love sustained and sweet, 
   The ties of home...this little shabby street
(Where Christ might walk) for here the lilies bloom
   To spill their fragrance in my quiet room. [page 51]

The Little Children

The little children of our street
   Are all so small and clean and sweet,
There’s Shirley Ann and Betty May
   And how they laugh and shout and play,
They skip and skate and ride their bikes
   You never saw such little tykes.

And Betty says her doll can talk,
   (Betty is sweeping off the walk)
With an old broom too big to hold)
   For Betty’s only five years old.
Her eyes are brown as autumn leaves, 
   Her hair the color of new sheaves.

And Coleen used to be so small
   But now she’s growing thin and tall, 
You’d hardly think that just last year
   Her wee brown head just came to here.
She had a kitten and a swing, 
   And had a birthday in the spring.

Rex is a dog, but every day
   He joins the children at their play, 
And has the greatest fun of all
   He jumps the fence to get the ball, 
And never cries or makes a fuss, 
   Just plays and loves to be with us. [page 52]

I’m getting big—I’m ten years old
   And grandma often starts to scold
And says I should be taught to sew,
   But mother laughs, and then I go
Upstairs to bed...and then...and then...
   First thing I know...it’s day again. [page 53]

 So Long

So long as day shall follow night—so long
   As there are stars and wind and even song, 
And old sweet mother rocking by the fire,
   (And still sweet April nights and young desire,)
So long as these are here serene, complete,
   So will the core of life be sound and sweet.

So long as children love to play and run
   And little kindly deeds are thought and done
So long as tired feet come home at night
   And there is fresh cooked food and firelight, 
And gentle hands and shoulder wide and strong, 
   There will be strength to bear the world along.

So long as rainbows flaunt their colors seven, 
   Above the darkness of a storm–swept heaven, 
So long as seeds, dark–prisoned in the land, 
   Shall burst their tiny cells and grow and stand
A shining miracle above the sod, 
   So long as these are here...there will be God. [page 54]

Cheerful Folk

I like cheerful folk around,
   Happy lips that brim with song
Never fill your ears with woe, 
   Never burden you with wrong, 
They will have them, never doubt
   That they will not talk about.

In our common daily round,
   I like folks who seem to find
Something clean and good to say,
   Something good in human kind.
There is woe enough to spare,
   Poverty walks everywhere.

I like folks who make you feel
   That the goal is worth the strife.
Folks who bear the brunt of toil
   Make a happy game of life.
Greet the morning with a song, 
   Help to push the world along.

There are thousands just like this,
   Folks who face the day with smiles, 
Always there when things go wrong, 
   (Helping lame dogs over stiles).
Earth’s sweet leaven running free, 
   Sweetening life for you and me. [page 55]

Sermons In Stones

A sermon in a stone, they say, 
   Ah, yes, I know, a hundred prayers
Ascend from little altars green,
   They preach His gospel unawares, 
Who plant a flower or a tree
   That people going by may see.

The birds wake slowly, one by one, 
   Facing the dawn they gladly raise
Their tiny voices to the sun, 
   A quivering madrigal of praise.
The tall spikes of the golden rod
   Proclaim the dwelling–place of God.

White candles on a chestnut tree
   Like tapers lit before a shrine, 
The sky’s blue ceiling lifted up
   (And people asking for a sign)
When every russet woods aflame
   Sing hallelujahs to His name. [page 56]

The Old Grandmother

Her home was such a tiny place
   And yet she kept it clean and fair,
She had a knack of fixing things, 
   A little cushion for a chair,
A braided mat...a crocheted rug,
   That made her kitchen warm and snug.

And through the open door, you caught
   A glimpse into her bedroom clean, 
Starched pillow shams, a patchwork quilt, 
   A dresser painted apple green.
A motto framed above the bed
   (God Bless our Home) was what it said.

Ah, dear old–fashioned folk, I know
   You’ve long since gone to your reward,
Perhaps you make small mats and things
   In some white mansion of the Lord.
I think that even heaven could stand
   Gay things that women make by hand. [page 57]

Prayer For The Blind

God give him sight that we know nothing of,
   Some inner vision shining through his gloom,
His poor old sightless eyes so dull and still
   As he stands gently working at a broom.
The straws get twisted, and he cannot see
   Just feels the ends and stomps then on his knee.

How patient are the faces of the blind,
   Like an old parchment of wrinkled silk,
Blue–veined as marble on a temple floor,
   His fine old curling hair as white as milk, 
He walks with little groping steps and feels
   The white sides of the dishes at his meals.

I wonder if this broken, tired man
   Was once a little boy with eager feet,
Running as lightly as an April wind
   Along the dappled sunlight of a street.
(Oh, grant him now the sense in nerve and limb
   Of that bright life that once was part of him).

Give to his sunken eyes the shining light
   Of apple trees in bloom against the sky,
The peace of quiet pools, the flash of wings, 
   The glitter of bright swords as men go by,
Oh, may he walk in faith and truly find
   The blessed hope and patience of the blind. [page 58]

A Modern Martha

This modern Martha serves with willing hands
   Small frosted cakes and fragrant cups of tea,
And once when trouble knocked upon my door, 
   She was the very first to come to me.

She has no special gift of anything, 
   No voice to sing immortal songs or lays
And yet there’s music in her happy face,
   Her lovely presence is a song of praise.

Her house has shining walls and tidy shelves,
   A quaint, old–fashioned look about the rooms
As if the warp and woof of sunny hours
   Was woven into days on happy looms.

She has the hand of Martha, strong and fine,
   And yet the heart of Mary makes her see
Where there is need, and so her tender hands
   Reach out to serve in loving ministry. [page 59]

The Immigrant

She has a peasant’s hands, warm vital hands
   That know the feel of sod...the touch of rain
Strong as a man’s, yet tender to the young,
   She stooks the wide, sweet fields of ripened grain, 
Pitting her clean, good strength against the soil,
   Laughs as she moves about her daily toil.

Something about her body makes me know
   That somehow she is kin to this brown earth, 
For in her is the patience of the sod,
   The motherhood of all things glad for birth.
The peace of evening...dawn’s attendant glow
   The purity of morning stars...and snow.

A peasant in a wide, old, gathered, pleated skirt, 
   A ’kerchief tied three–cornered on her head, 
Transplanted from a far–off alien land
   She goes about her task earning bread,
And brings to this new land a wisdom fraught
   With peace,—the waiting centuries have taught. [page 60]

To A Young Girl

She’ll never set the world afire
   She’ll never rise to fame, 
Nor climb the ladder of success,
   Or write in gold her name.
But, oh, she’s sweet to live with
   In a common sort of way, 
She makes an air of happiness
   To shine through every day.

Her heart is pure as hawthorn buds, 
   She’s clean in soul and mind,
She has a gentle way with her
   And, oh, her face is kind.
She finds a hundred ways to show
   The loving heart she bears,
A bit of heaven shining through
   The very clothes she wears.

She’s just a common sort of girl
   With eyes and chin and nose, 
Yet, in the firelight, sometimes,
   Her face is like a rose.
The world is somehow kinder
   Since she came to live with me,
And she has shown me just how sweet
   A MODERN girl can be. [page 61]

Shirley

How lovely Shirley’s eyes must be
   For in a garden she can see
Fairies and elves in silken dresses,
   A jack–in–the–pulpit, too, who blesses
His lovely congregation gay,
   Gathered upon this summer day.

The canterbury bells ring out
   Bidding the butterflies and bees
To worship in this temple holy,
   And so they come, the meek and lowly,
And Shirley vows she sees them there
   Bending their tiny knees in prayer.

Oh, give me for a little space,
   A child’s small heart of shining grace
That I may see the white–robed daisies
   Bowing their heads and singing praises
To the Most High...for Shirley knows
   The loving habits of the rose. [page 62]

Stars

She got a golden star today
   In her new spelling book, 
“There on the margin it shines
   All gold! Oh, mother, look!
And on the black–board, too, there’s one
   Against the name of ‘Joyce’,”
And there was rapture in her eyes
   And wonder in her voice.

For grown–ups, too, in Life’s hard school
   There is a Book, I’m told,
Where names are written down like this
   And some have stars of gold.
How lovely it will be, at last, 
   Beyond all praise or blame, 
If in the Book a star is set
   To shine against your name. [page 63]

Spring Indeed

To be a part of spring...the throb and stir
   Of sap and budding oak...a bird’s clear praise
A white–washed apple tree...a pasture lot
   Where sweet–breathed cattle graze.

A vacant lot whose grass is daisy starred
   Where little girls in clean print dresses play, 
Making long chains to hang about their necks
   The long sweet summer day.

A hatch of chickens, yellow as the sun,
   A new calf trying out his wobbly legs, 
And there above the porch, secure and warm, 
   A nest of robin’s eggs.

I had forgotten how the blossoms fall,
   The shining wonder of a chestnut tree,
Until you came with glory in your eyes
   And gave it back to me.

Ah, Spring! the Bride of Earth in raiment fair
   Holding her lamp above the greening wheat, 
She walks triumphant down the scented ways
   With magic in her feet. [page 64]

The Horns Of Elfland

They say that if our ears were sharp enough
   We could hear grasses growing, and the sound
Of tiny trumpets when the bluebells sway
   Above the warm, clean fragrance of the ground,
That even snow–drops have a song to sing
   To swell the hallelujahs of the spring.

And so, if I had tender ears, I’d learn
   Why crocuses have little furry stems,
And why petunias have such gay attire
   Like little party frocks with scalloped hems, 
And how a mother robin knows her mate
   And is content to brood and love...and wait.

So I will listen with my heart, instead
   Of these dull ears, and maybe I shall catch
The first faint stirring in the chrysalis
   Of some wee Life about my garden patch.
Or hear the rapture of the wind’s caress
   Ringing a silver bell for happiness. [page 65]

A Vacant Lot

A vacant lot has many things
   Beyond our slow imaginings,
How could a common mortal see
   Parrots and monkeys in a tree.
Or pirates’ gold long buried there
   In that low place that looks so bare.

How could a grown–up ever sense
   The magic country of Pretense
Or see a band of Indians hide
   Just over on the other side,
With tomahawks and scalps and bows
   (The things that every youngster knows).

How could we dream that fairy–land
   Was waiting there so close to hand,
That ever rugged rock and tree
   Was steeped and dipped in mystery, 
Along the little paths they made
   Winding about this lovely glade.

Ah, Grown–up world, do children know
   A wisdom greater than we teach, 
A clearer faith, a deeper love, 
   A finer creed that we can preach.
Because a vacant lot has shown
   Me wonders I had never known. [page 66]

In A Garden

 Here among the budding flowers
   I have known such happy hours,
Learned new lessons every day,
   Looked at things a different way.
Values change when you are set
   In a patch of mignonette.

Looking in a pansy’s face
   I have found sweeter grace.
In the still heart of a rose
   All the peace that Nature knows.
From a clump of marigold
   Something for my heart to hold.

I have learned that fret and fuss
   Spoils the very best in us, 
Eats away the vine and leaf
   Kills the roots of our belief,
Makes us hard and full of strife
   Spoils the very best in life.

In this little patch of ground
   There is something clean and sound, 
Every spade of soil you turn
   There is something new to learn.
Here amid the sun and rain
   I have found myself again. [page 67]

She Planted Trees

She didn’t do much that a person could see, 
   This little old lady who lived down the street, 
But she planted a tree at the side of the house, 
   And a row of red tulips so prim and so neat.
She set out some rose bushes close to the walk, 
   Some pansies and asters and cuttings of stock.

She tended her flowers with patience untold, 
   She watered them faithfully, day after day, 
She coaxed them along like a mother, I vow,
   They answered her care in their own lovely way.
The roses leaned over the gate, full and sweet,
   The stocks sent their perfume in waves down the street.

She didn’t do much that a person could see,
   But the whole street was better because of her toil.
A little old woman as thin as a wasp,
   But she cherished this life in the sun and the soil, 
And made of her garden a place set apart
   Reflecting the peace in her own quiet heart. [page 68]

In A Sudden Cold Snap

God keep the little feathered things tonight.
   Where do they hide when storms like these come down?
I saw them yesterday, so gay and bright, 
   Flitting about the doorways of the town, 
And two went by like lovers, close to me, 
   Surveying for a nest, from tree to tree.

I put out scraps of meat and scatter crumbs,
   And call from every door and window ledge
Looking for them, and yet no robin comes
   Flying across the tangles holly hedge, 
Is there some secret place where birds can go, 
   When they are caught like this in sudden snow?

April would mourn and hide her face in shame
   And May would droop beneath her hawthorn red, 
Spring would be sorrowful, if no birds came
   To sing above the glory she had spread.
(Oh, Father, keep them safe through wind and storm, 
   hide them beneath Thy cloak and keep them warm). [page 69]

The Spoken Word

Let’s talk of lovely things...for I have heard
   That there is power in the spoken word, 
Power to heal and bless, a well of joy
   (And also power to shatter and destroy).
A word has wings, they say, to bear it far
   Beyond the farthest radius of a star.

Let’s talk of lovely things...the good and fair
   The tender things about us everywhere, 
For words are freighted with such force and might, 
   They go swift as an arrow in its flight.
No sword as sharp as words to pierce the heart, 
   No evil like a sentence’s poisoned dart.

Let’s talk of lovely things...hold fast to these
   The peace of summer fields, the strength of trees,
Clean–hearted women...men of quiet worth, 
   Think on them all, the worthy things of earth, 
Speak of them gladly, let your voice be heard
   Only in passing on the kindly word. [page 70]

Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning? Yes, we’ve chased the cobwebs out, 
   Flung wide the doors and put the dust to rout, 
Got into little corners with a pin, 
   Hunted the places where dirt had been.
Up–rooted rugs, cleaned carpets on the stair,
   Even the attic came in for its share.

And now the house is shining, walls and floors,
   Even the door–knobs glisten on the doors, 
The rooms are sweet with a new–painted look
    You’d never dream the little time it took
To make it clean within, where Love might stay
   And rest at the sweet even of the day.

If hands can work such miracles, oh, take
   The hidden chambers of my heart and make
Them clean and fair, that secret blot or stain
   Cleanse them in the bright flood of April rain.
Oh, make my heart a doorway, shining bright, 
   That I may appear spotless in Thy sight. [page 71]

The Stay–At–Homes

The stay–at–homes all envy me
   My little travels to and fro.
They look at me with wistful eyes
   And only wish that they could go
To meet new people, see new things, 
   Wear pretty dresses, read a book, 
Stay at a nice hotel, and eat
   Good meals they didn’t have to cook.

Oh, little stay–at–home, I know
   It all sounds lovely in a poem,
But you have Life’s most precious thing, 
   The shelter of a kindly home.
The dear security of love, 
   A marriage blest and sanctified, 
A child to run with eager feet
   A husband walking by your side.

So let us each be glad, my dear,
   You, for your common daily round,
And I, for little roads that lead
   My always over lonely ground.
This be your lot...and this be mine, 
   A cottage at the edge of town, 
A white road leading where it will
   Over the whole world up and down. [page 72]

Birds Nest Building

How is it then you carry all day long, 
   Small bits of twig and ragged ends of string, 
A bit of colored wool, a tiny thread, 
   To weave into your lovely fashioning.
A thousand trips a day, I do believe, 
   Building your nest against the sheltering eave.

And then you sing, perched on a broken twig, 
   A sweet doxology of simple praise, 
Then dart away in silver–mounted wings, 
   To dip and swoop through pools of purple haze.
One last swift flight before you settle down
   Crouched in your little bed of sober brown.

Oh, tiny Prophet of the spring–to–be,
   Who taught you all the wisdom of your ways?
Dates on the calendar...the route of flight, 
   The rules of music in your measured phrase.
Tell me, I pray—for I would follow, too,
   And learn the gift of happiness from you. [page 73]

Everyday Miracles

A tiny bridge above the stream,
   And in this lonely place
A ragged edge of sunset caught
   Against the water’s face, 
Staining to red its crimson depths, 
   A miracle divine, 
For here before me once again
   Is water turned to wine.

I walked with Spring about the fields, 
   And in a sunny spot
I found a little grey cocoon,
   With silken meshes caught,
But when I stopped to look within,
   I knelt and held my breath,
The tiny sepulchre was bare,
   For Life had conquered Death.

How is it, then, that I should ask
   A plainer speech than these
Birds going North in April, 
   And the sight of greening trees.
The pearly mist of hawthorn buds, 
   Hot sunlight on the sea
Answers my hungry heart and makes
   A worshipper of me. [page 74]

The Birthday Party

I think it is a lovely thing
   To have a birthday in the spring,
And Coleen, just across the way, 
   Is nine years old this April day.
Her mother must be happy, too, 
   For, oh, the skies are warm and blue
And there are pink tipped daisies on
   The tiny borders of their lawn.

She has a birthday party, too.
   There are little girls in pink and blue, 
But Coleen’s dress is white, with frills, 
   And every minute has new thrills, 
For every child brought her a gift, 
   There’s more than she can even lift.

The birthday cake is pink and green
   With layers of jelly in between,
And nine pink candles in a row, 
   Balloons and lollypops...and, Oh, 
I think it is a lovely thing
   To have a birthday in the spring. [page 75]

My Soul Delights

My soul delights in lovely things, 
   The sight of beauty often brings
A stab of joy to my heart’s core.
   Wet pebbles glistening on the shore,
Cool stippled sunlight on the sea
   Answers some hungry need in me.

My heart is comforted and healed
   Of little woes, when in a field
White daisies raise their lovely faces
   To shine above these common places.
Or ragged larkspur, faintly blue, 
   Nods by the garden fence to you.

My spirit kneels before the shrine
   Of pink and purple columbine, 
Of trellised roses, heliotrope
   Climbing the garden’s gentle slope.
A monument to Love it stands, 
   a temple fair, not made with hands. [page 76]

Clover

A field of clover is a heartsome thing
   To see, the pale green showing in the spring, 
Like carpets spread upon the sober ground.
   The coming of new wings...the sound
Of new Life breaking forth in tree and hedge, 
   Nature renews again her age–old pledge.

A field of clover coming into bloom, 
   The heady fragrance of her purple plume
A challenge, and a promise lifted up
   Where bees drink nectar from an holy cup, 
Lords of the field who ask no richer brew
   Than these sweet blossoms wet with morning dew.

I love a farm–house, fashioned low and wide, 
   With drooping eaves and cosy rooms inside, 
Built on a knoll, with sloping fields around,
   (Farr off a mountain rises dimly crowned
Against the sky, as if a Master hand
   Had drawn a back–ground for this lovely land).

And all about the farmstead, little fields
   Give graciously their rich and varied yields, 
Clover and rye and the rich gold of wheat, 
   Fruit of the growing trees, earth’s bread and meat.
The bounty of a hand whose loving reach
   Transcends the little boundaries of speech. [page 77]

Lessons From The Prairie

From this immensity of earth and sky
Teach me, I pray, new rules to measure by.

From the vast cavalcade of summer days
Teach me—Oh, Life—the peace of lonely ways.

From the deep well of silence, let me draw
The strength and wisdom of Thy perfect law.

From hurried days of heat and driving toil, 
Teach me the blessed patience of the soil.

From all our human ways of fear and strife, 
Teach me the timeless harmony of Life. [page 78]

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