Rosemary

“There’s Rosemary—that’s for remembrance.” —Hamlet

 

PALE blossom, colored like a woman’s eyes,

Dewy, gray-blue, of pungent, spicy smell,

Bitter in savor as dear memories,

I will be brave to pluck thee, and to tell,

Charmed by the mystic powers of thy spell,

Long-buried thoughts, grave reminiscences,

Dead glorious hopes and tenderest reveries.

 

Let me remember—for on such a day

’Tis sadder to forget than to recall:

The perfect fullness of the golden May

Holds earth and heaven in its subtle thrall;

Blue-green the mists that on the hilltops fall;

Far off the river shines, swift boats slide past,

The calm, deep sky vaults doubly high and vast;

 

The wild vine hugs the oak and tamarind

With many a flower soft and delicate spray,

And, yielding silent to the moderate wind,

Like a thin haze of woven green and gray,

The long, ethereal mosses stir and sway

In joyous sympathy with bud and leaf:

At such an hour the soul refuseth grief.

 

The thought of death seems no ungentle thing

In this warm light, ’midst these reviving woods,

Rich with the bright encouragement of Spring.

Peace in the sky, peace o’er the woodland broods,

And thickly peopled arc these solitudes

With souls whose dwelling is the unbounded air,

Whose presence is a fragrance and a prayer.

 

Forgotten by a hollow-hearted world,

The dead lie in their quiet graves, folk say:

In this still landscape, with wreathed smoke upcurled

From happy hearths, no part nor share have they,

Nor in the resurrection of the May;

Nowise remembered nor remembering,

While the glad hours lead in the dewy Spring.

 

The awful void that once loomed dark and wide

Now, in these calm, changed days, is nowhere found:

New forms arise, the want hath been supplied;

No scar is visible to mark the wound,

And life again grows cheerful, sweet and sound.

Yea, though the dead returned (folk say), their place

Would have no welcome for the once-loved face.

 

’Tis false against the heroic human soul,

The aching, uncomplaining, dauntless heart,

That breaks not, neither fails, but can control

The tears that to the burning eyelids start—

The outward show of weakness—and take part

In life when all that made it life hath gone,

A trouble and a memory alone.

 

Grief dies not, but grows part of the great soul:

Though many an outstretched hand with gentle might

At first may move her, yet as seasons roll

She slowly, surely learns how weak and slight

Is every outward hold, and in the sight

Of very Heaven feels herself alone—

Her woe and joy none other’s but her own.

 

On such a day, in such a spot as this,

A presence fills the haunted, fragrant air:

From where clear waters the green meadows kiss,

From sunny-hearted cloud and gossamer,

It floats and hovers near us everywhere.

The sweet communion rests the wearied soul,

Heals it and soothes, and the sick brain makes whole.

 

Blurred, wet and strange look sky and field and grass,

But let the tears flow swift and hot again:

How rich is life when its chief light may pass,

And such infinity of good remain!

This pain is no kin to the first wild pain:

It melts beneath these sacred memories,

And from all gracious hopes it gaineth ease.

 

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