Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE LEADERS, by LOUISE E. V. BOYD

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THE LEADERS, by            
First Line: The maiden read the spring time's idyl through
Last Line: Death but the entrance to eternity.
Subject(s): Future Life; Hope; Memory; Retribution; Eternity; After Life; Optimism

The maiden read the spring time's idyl through,
Each day's fresh page a fairer picture showing,
Flower-clustered branches, and nest-building birds
And clouds in the blue sky with rose light glowing;
The rivulets ripple over mossy stones,
And what the winds told to the listening leaves
When the dew touched them, and when moonlight brought
The sweetest dream of heaven earth e'er receives—
The violet's passionate, pure prayer of love—
Thrilled her heart's chords; its sinless worshipper,
The arbatus, fair as light, and bright as life,
Its Eden memories told again to her.
Yet scarcely smiled she all the while,
Her heart was yearning toward a far-off grave,
Where slept her soldier youth—bitter thought!
These flowers he loved so may not deck his grave.
[He pauses, clasps his hands, and sighs. Hope and Memory aside.]
HOPE.—I am there, and my dear poet has forgotten it.
MEMORY.—And I. How blind he is! but he proceeds.
Listen to the second verse; see if we are exiled from it.
[Poet proceeds.]
The mother read the sweet-rhymed poem,
How royally rich was every page she turned!
The rose was crimson with the hue of triumph,
The stars above as freedom's watch-fires burned.
But summer winds were sighing, ever sighing;
And bead-like dew-drops rosaries were of tears,
For Tennessee's soft winds and low-toned waters
Blend dirge-like in the strain her spirit hears.
There, far away, he sleeps, her gallant darling,
Her hope, her pride, her bravest and her best—
Her blue-eyed first-born hushed to sleep so fondly,
It seems but yesterday night, upon her breast.

And one in manhood's prime read the proud anthem
Of autumn, ah! the tale was fitly told!
Of the bright mission in the laden orchards
When fruit and leaves of bronze and red and gold
Made pretty pictures under the fair heavens,
That through the Indian summer atmosphere
Smiled on the earth so fond; the soul upreaches
To meet the angels, for they seem so near;
And 'midst those angels one is crowned with laurel;—
That soldier son in Gettysburg that fell,
And autumn winds sigh softly, "It is finished;"
And that fair angel whispers, "It is well!"

O'er the calm-worded eulogy of winter
The gray-haired grandsire bent with earnest eye;
And one by one, like snow-flakes floating, floating,
Came thoughts of how to live and how to die.
Oh, Life, of thee the thoughts were real, earnest;
Oh, Death, of thee the thoughts were calm and high;
Life's end and aim the Truth, our God, our Country,
Death but the entrance to eternity.

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