Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A CHILD'S WISDOM, by ALICE CARY

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A CHILD'S WISDOM, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When the cares of day are ended
Last Line: But I know he is not dead.
Subject(s): Children; Poetry & Poets; Love

WHEN the cares of day are ended,
And I take my evening rest,
Of the windows of my chamber
This is that I love the best;
This one facing to the hill-tops
And the orchards of the west.

All the woodlands, dim and dusky,
All the fields of waving grain,
All the valleys sprinkled over
With the drops of sunlit rain,
I can see them through the twilight,
Sitting here beside my pane.

I can see the hilly places,
With the sheep-paths trod across;
See the fountains by the waysides,
Each one in her house of moss,
Holding up the mist above her
Like a skein of silken floss.

Garden corners bright with roses,
Garden borders set with mint,
Garden beds, wherein the maidens
Sow their seeds, as love doth hint,
To some rhyme of mystic charming
That shall come back all in print.

Ah! with what a world of blushes
Then they read it through and through,
Weeding out the tangled sentence
From the commas of the dew:
Little ladies, choose ye wisely,
Lest some day the choice ye rue.

I can see a troop of children,
Merry-hearted boys and girls,
Eyes of light and eyes of darkness,
Feet of coral, legs of pearls,
Racing toward the morning school-house
Half a head before their curls.

One from all the rest I single,
Not for brighter mouth or eyes,
Not for being sweet and simple,
Not for being sage and wise:
With my whole full heart I loved him,
And therein my secret lies.

Cheeks as brown as sun could kiss them,
All in careless homespun dressed,
Eager for the romp or wrestle,
Just a rustic with the rest:
Who shall say what love is made of?
'T is enough I loved him best.

Haply, Effie loved me better --
She with arms so lily fair,
In her sadness, in her gladness,
Stealing round me unaware;
Dusky shadows of the cairngorms
All among her golden hair.

Haply, so did willful Annie,
With the tender eyes and mouth,
And the languors and the angers
Of her birth-land of the South:
Still my darling was my darling --
"I can love," I said, "for both."

So I left the pleasure-places,
Gayest, gladdest, best of all --
Hedge-row mazes, lanes of daisies,
Bluebirds' twitter, blackbirds' call --
For the robbing of the crow's nest,
For the games of race and ball.

So I left my book of poems
Lying in the hawthorn's shade,
Milky flowers sometimes for hours
Drifting down the page unread.
"He was found a better poet;
I will read with him," I said.

Thus he led me, hither, thither,
To his young heart's wild content,
Where so surly and so curly,
With his black horns round him bent,
Fed the ram that ruled the meadow --
For where'er he called I went:

Where the old oak, black and blasted,
Trembled on his knotty knees,
Where the nettle teased the cattle,
Where the wild crab-apple trees
Blushed with bitter fruit to mock us;
'T was not I that was to please:

Where the ox, with horn for pushing,
Chafed within his prison stall;
Where the long-leaved poison-ivy
Clambered up the broken wall:
Ah! no matter, still I loved him
First and last and best of all.

When before the frowning master
Late and lagging in we came,
I would stand up straight before him,
And would take my even blame:
Ah! my darling was my darling;
Good or bad 't was all the same.

One day, when the lowering storm-cloud
South and east began to frown,
Flat along the waves of grasses,
Like a swimmer, he lay down,
With his head propped up and resting
On his two arms strong and brown.

On the sloping ridge behind us
Shone the yet ungarnered sheaves;
Round about us ran the shadows
Of the overhanging leaves,
Rustling in the wind as softly
As a lady's silken sleeves.

Where a sudden notch before us
Made a gateway in the hill,
And a sense of desolation
Seemed the very air to fill,
There beneath the weeping willows
Lay the grave-yard, hushed and still.

Pointing over to the shoulders
Of the head-stones, white and high,
Said I, in his bright face looking,
"Think you you shall ever lie
In among those weeping willows?"
"No!" he said, "I cannot die!"

"Cannot die? my little darling,
'T is the way we all must go!"
Then the bold bright spirit in him
Setting all his cheek aglow,
He repeated still the answer,
"I shall never die, I know!"

"Wait and think. On yonder hillside
There are graves as short as you.
Death is strong." -- "But He who made Death
Is as strong, and stronger too.
Death may take me, God will wake me,
And will make me live anew."

Since we sat within the elm shade
Talking as the storm came on,
Many a blessed hope has vanished,
Many a year has come and gone;
But that simple, sweet believing
Is the staff I lean upon.

From my arms, so closely clasping,
Long ago my darling fled;
Morning brightness makes no lightness
In the darkness where I tread:
He is lost, and I am lonely,
But I know he is not dead.

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