Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE POPPIES, by AMELIA JOSEPHINE BURR

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THE POPPIES, by            
First Line: This is the garden of your joyous care
Last Line: And in my love you live.
Subject(s): Death; Love; Poppies; Dead, The

This is the garden of your joyous care,
Where such a little time before you died
You walked with pleasant pride
And pointed out your favorites, the rare
Tree roses, and the riotous delight
Of poppies, from the crimson to the white
Sounding the gamut of ecstatic hue.
So richly coloured was all life to you!
You never called the world a vale of tears.
Such long and loving labor overgrown!
How soon the wild undoes your patient years . . .
Not wholly; with each summer's weeds I see
Poppies arise, self-sown.
They are your garden's immortality.

What would be Heaven for you? It comforts me
To picture you with leisure and with strength
To bring to life at length
Your dreams of beauty -- all your soul set free
From the mean goading of necessity,
And from the bodily pain
You bore so bravely, like a galling chain
That heavy grew and heavier, each day.
When death struck these away
I knew the magnitude of your release
By your high look of peace.
God knows I had no lack of tears, but they
Were not for you. My sorrow was my own.
I read -- "I will not leave you comfortless,
But I will come to you." I had not known
The meaning of those words until your death.
You were less near to me when I could press
Your hand, and feel your breath
Upon my cheek, than now. You seem so near,
So full of life, so constantly more dear,
I feel it only needs to turn my gaze
To see you standing here
Among your flowers, as in other days.
Like little shouts of exultation sweet
The poppies at my feet
Loose to the wind their petals. Let them die --
From them shall spring new beauty, by and by.
They are not over-greedy for a pledge
Of immortality; they give their best
To earth -- God knows the rest.
So did you tread your path across the edge
Of this our visible world. You did not hoard
Your spirit's treasure for a world unseen
Nor chaffer with your God for a reward
Ere you would serve. You did not even trust
Your master would be just.
You went your way, generous and serene,
And gave unquestioning all you had to spend
As friend to friend.
If you had known that all should end in dust
You would have thought it shame to drop your sword,
Because you fought your beasts at Ephesus
Not for yourself -- for us,
Who loved in you the love of righteousness.
There is no soul that touched you in the stress
Of that great battle where you did your part
So gallantly, which you did not impress
With your own chivalry. In every heart
That knew you, there is sown
A ruddy-blossomed seedling of your own.
Whatever Heaven there beyond may be,
This I can see!

If this dear presence by my love discerned
Be your own self, the self I knew, returned
From larger life in some transfigured guise
Unseen by mortal eyes,
Or if it be your spirit as it grew
Unconsciously of my own self a part,
Could it be any nearer if I knew,
Or dearer, to my heart?
You are in God, as you have always been.
Although I find it sweet
To dream that I shall know you when we meet
In such a garden as you cherished here,
I will not wait until I die, my Dear,
For Heaven to begin.
Sweeter it is to know that I can give
Your deathless bounty to a world in need.
I sow you as the poppy sows her seed,
And in my love you live.

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