Love and a Question

A STRANGER came to the door at eve,

And he spoke the bridegroom fair.

He bore a green-white stick in his hand,

And, for all burden, care.

He asked with the eyes more than the lips

For a shelter for the night,

And he turned and looked at the road afar

Without a window light.

The bridegroom came forth into the porch

With, 'Let us look at the sky,

And question what of the night to be,

Stranger, you and I.'

The woodbine leaves littered the yard,

The woodbine berries were blue,

Autumn, yes, winter was in the wind;

'Stranger, I wish I knew.'

Within, the bride in the dusk alone

Bent over the open fire,

Her face rose-red with the glowing coal

And the thought of the heart's desire.

The bridegroom looked at the weary road,

Yet saw but her within,

And wished her heart in a case of gold

And pinned with a silver pin.

The bridegroom thought it little to give

A dole of bread, a purse,

A heartfelt prayer for the poor of God,

Or for the rich a curse;

But whether or not a man was asked

To mar the love of two

By harboring woe in the bridal house,

The bridegroom wished he knew.

A Late Walk

WHEN I go up through the mowing field,

The headless aftermath,

Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,

Half closes the garden path.

And when I come to the garden ground,

The whir of sober birds

Up from the tangle of withered weeds

Is sadder than any words.

A tree beside the wall stands bare,

But a leaf that lingered brown,

Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought,

Comes softly rattling down.

I end not far from my going forth

By picking the faded blue

Of the last remaining aster flower

To carry again to you.

Stars

HOW countlessly they congregate

O'er our tumultuous snow,

Which flows in shapes as tall as trees

When wintry winds do blow!--

As if with keenness for our fate,

Our faltering few steps on

To white rest, and a place of rest

Invisible at dawn,--

And yet with neither love nor hate,

Those stars like some snow-white

Minerva's snow-white marble eyes

Without the gift of sight.

Storm Fear

WHEN the wind works against us in the dark,

And pelts with snow

The lowest chamber window on the east,

And whispers with a sort of stifled bark,

The beast,

'Come out! Come out!'--

It costs no inward struggle not to go,

Ah, no!

I count our strength,

Two and a child,

Those of us not asleep subdued to mark

How the cold creeps as the fire dies at length,--

How drifts are piled,

Dooryard and road ungraded,

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