Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, HELIOTROPE, by HARRY THURSTON PECK



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HELIOTROPE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Amid the chapel's chequered gloom
Last Line: That once she gave the old professor.
Subject(s): Heliotropes


AMID the chapel's chequered gloom
She laughed with Dora and with Flora,
And chattered in the lecture-room, --
That saucy little sophomora!
Yet while, as in her other schools,
She was a privileged transgressor,
She never broke the simple rules
Of one particular professor.

But when he spoke of varied lore,
Paroxytones and modes potential,
She listened with a face that wore
A look half fond, half reverential.
To her that earnest voice was sweet,
And though her love had no confessor,
Her girlish heart lay at the feet
Of that particular professor.

And he had learned, among his books
That held the lore of ages olden,
To watch those ever changing looks,
The wistful eyes, the tresses golden,
That stirred his pulse with passion's pain
And thrilled his soul with soft desire,
And bade fond youth return again
Crowned with his coronet of fire.

Her sunny smile, her winsome ways,
Were more to him than all his knowledge,
And she preferred his words of praise
To all the honors of the college.
Yet "What am foolish I to him?"
She whispered to her heart's confessor.
"She thinks me old and gray and grim,"
In silence pondered the professor.

Yet once when Christmas bells were rung
Above ten thousand solemn churches,
And swelling anthems grandly sung
Pealed through the dim cathedral arches, --
Ere home returning, filled with hope,
Softly she stole by gate and gable,
And a sweet spray of heliotrope
Left on his littered study-table.

Nor came she more from day to day
Like sunshine through the shadows rifting:
Above her grave, far, far away,
The ever silent snows were drifting;
And those who mourned her winsome face
Found in its stead a swift successor
And loved another in her place --
All, save the silent old professor.

But, in the tender twilight gray,
Shut from the sight of carping critic,
His lonely thoughts would often stray
From Vedic verse and tongues Semitic,
Bidding the ghost of vanished hope
Mock with its past the sad possessor
Of the dead spray of heliotrope
That once she gave the old professor.





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