Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DOVECOTT MILL: 5. THE PLAYMATES, by PHOEBE CARY

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

DOVECOTT MILL: 5. THE PLAYMATES, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Behind the cottage the mill-creek flowed
Last Line: The tender dreams of her life's young day!
Subject(s): Children; Childhood

Behind the cottage the mill-creek flowed,
And before it, white and winding, showed
The narrow track of the winter road,

The creek when low, showed a sandy floor,
And many a green old sycamore
Threw its shade in summer from shore to shore.

And just a quiet country lane,
Fringed close by fields of grass and grain,
Was the crooked road that crossed the plain.

Out of the fragrant fennel's bed
On its bank, the purple iron-weed spread
Her broad top over the mullein's head.

Off through the straggling town it wound,
Then led you down to beech-wood pond,
And up to the school-house, just beyond.

Not far away was a wood's deep shade
Where, larger grown, the boy and maid,
Searching for flowers and berries, strayed,

And oft they went the field-paths through,
Where all the things she liked he knew,
And the very places where they grew.

The hidden nook where Nature set
The wind-flower and the violet,
And the mountain-fringe in hollows wet.

The solomon's-seal, of gold so fine,
And the king-cup, holding its dewy wine
Up to the crowned dandelion.

He gathered the ripe nuts in the fall,
And berries that grew by fence and wall
So high she could not reach them at all.

The fruit of the hawthorn, black and red,
Wild grapes, and the hip that came instead,
Of the sweet wild roses, faded and dead.

Then the curious ways of birds he knew,
And where they lived the season through,
And how they built, and sang, and flew.

Sometimes the boughs he bended down,
And Bethy counted with eyes that shone,
Eggs, white and speckled, blue and brown.

And oft they watched with wondering eye
The swallows, up on the rafters high
Teaching their timid young to fly.

For many a dull and rainy day
They wiled the hours till night away
Up in the mow on the scented hay.

And many a dress was soiled and torn
In climbing about the dusty barn
And up to the lofts of wheat and corn.

For they loved to hear on the roof, the rain,
And to count the bins, again and again,
Heaped with their treasures of golden grain.

They played with the maize's swordlike leaves,
And tossed the rye and the oaten sheaves,
In autumn piled to the very eaves.

They peeped in the stalls where the cattle fed,
They fixed their swing to the beam o'erhead, --
Turned the wind-mill, huge, and round, and red.

And the treasure of treasures, the pet and toy,
The source alike of his care and joy,
Was the timid girl to the brave bright boy.

When they went to school, her hand he took,
Lead her, and helped her over stile and brook,
And carried her basket, slate, and book.

And he was a scholar, if Bethy said true,
The hardest book he could read right through,
And there was n't a "sum" that he could n't "do!"

Oh, youth, whatever we lose or secure,
One good we can all keep safe and sure,
Who remember a childhood, happy and pure!

And hard indeed must a man be made,
By the toil and traffic of gain and trade,
Who loves not the spot where a boy he played.

And I pity that woman, or grave or gay,
Who keeps not fresh in her heart alway
The tender dreams of her life's young day!

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