― 86 ―

The Hill

I WENT one day of days that pass
To seek the house called “Home”,
And there was only green grass
And Heaven's high dome.

I went one day to seek the place
That, dreaming, calls me still,
And there was only the calm face
Of a low, long hill.

No roof was there, nor sign where leapt
A hearthstone's friendly flame;
The very sod had long been swept
Of grief and all blame.

The little plot of garden grace
Where balm of beauty blew
Was a forlorn, forgotten place
Where no flower grew.

Lupin and stock, the sheer delight
Of bugloss blue and tall,
And Christmas lilies, hushed and white
And best loved of all—

Some hand had stolen bloom and pod,
And old verbena tree;
No incense lifted up to God
From dark rosemarye.

The tasselled maize that Summer woke
To broken murmurings
Of strange, pathetic tongues that spoke
Of dumb, far things;

  ― 87 ―
The pear tree like a poplar tall,
Whose trembling branches threw
Quaint shadows with the secret call
The child-soul knew;

The rose that nodded by the door,
Or, swept with wind, anon
Flung its loose petals on the floor—
Were all gone—gone!

Nor fence, nor rail, nor any bound
The olden borders kept;
Only afar the river wound
By green willows swept.

Sun-jewels on his breast of blue
Danced, as in years of old
I watched the angels dancing too
On long waves of gold,

When that old tale they told to me
At holy Easter-tide,
That once for little children, He,
God's own Son, died.

O secret spot, from stress apart,
Where once dropped healing balm,
Oasis hidden in the heart,
A well—and one palm.

The palm is dust beside the way,
The patient well has dried,
There's only wind that sobs, to-day,
On the green hill side.

Yet well, perhaps, no shadow flits
O'er sill and lintel now;
Or memory-laden ruin sits
On the low hill's brow;

  ― 88 ―
Yes, well, perhaps, the winding ways
Are hid with kindly grass,
Else I had seen old, tired days
And bowed griefs pass.

As well that o'er a green hill side
God's own good sun spills free—
Old orchard trees more ghosts might hide,
Than I dared see.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust!
New grief old griefs upon,
The olden faith, the olden trust
Are all gone—gone!