Under the Snow,
The spring had
tripped and lost
The spring had tripped and lost her flowers,
The summer sauntered through the glades,
The wounded feet of autumn hours
Left ruddy footprints on the blades.
And all the glories of the woods
Had flung their shadowy silence down,—
When, wilder than the storm it broods,
She fled before the winter's frown.
For her sweet spring had lost its flowers,
She fell, and passion's tongues of flame
Ran reddening through the blushing bowers,
Now haggard as her naked shame.
One secret thought her soul had screened,
When prying matrons sought her wrong,
And Blame stalked on, a mouthing fiend,
And mocked her as she fled along.
And now she bore its weight aloof,
To hide it where one ghastly birch
Held up the rafters of the roof,
And grim old pine-trees formed a church.
'Twas there her spring-time vows were sworn,
And there upon its frozen sod,
While wintry midnight reigned forlorn,
She knelt, and held her hands to God.
The cautious creatures of the air
Looked out from many a secret place,
To see the embers of despair
Flush the gray ashes of her face.
And where the last week's snow had caught
The gray beard of a cypress limb,
She heard the music of a thought
More sweet than her own childhood's hymn.
For rising in that cadence low,
With "Now I lay me down to sleep,"
Her mother rocked her to and fro,
And prayed the Lord her soul to keep.
And still her prayer was humbly raised,
Held up in two cold hands to God,
That, white as some old pine-tree blazed,
Gleamed far o'er that dark frozen sod.
The storm stole out beyond the wood,
She grew the vision of a cloud,
Her dark hair was a misty hood,
Her stark face shone as from a shroud.
Still sped the wild storm's rustling feet
To martial music of the pines,
And to her cold heart's muffled beat
Wheeled grandly into solemn lines.
And still, as if her secret's woe
No mortal words had ever found,
This dying sinner draped in snow
Held up her prayer without a sound.
But when the holy angel bands
Saw this lone vigil, lowly kept,
They gathered from her frozen hands
The prayer thus folded, and they wept.
Some snow-flakes—wiser than the rest—
Soon faltered o'er a thing of clay,
First read this secret of her breast,
Then gently robed her where she lay.
The dead dark hair, made white with snow,
A still stark face, two folded palms,
And (mothers, breathe her secret low!)
An unborn infant—asking alms.
God kept her counsel; cold and mute
His steadfast mourners closed her eyes,
Her head-stone was an old tree's root,
Be mine to utter,—"Here she lies."