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In a City Garden

How strange that here is nothing as it was!
The sward is young and new,
The sod there shapes a different mass,
The random trees stand other than I knew.
No, here the Past has left no residue,
No aftermath!
By a new path
The workmen homeward in the city twilight pass.

Yet was this willow here.
It hung as now its olive skeins aloft
Into the sky, then blue and clear,--
And yonder pair of poplar trees

Rose also, soft
And sibilant in the glory of the breeze.
It's early dark. One scarce distinguishes
Their sullen feathering in the autumn sky.
'Tis warm and still.
Dull o'er the town the vapours lie.
And dodging the uncertain stare,
The small, shrewd lampions dot the air.

Many like me
Loiter perhaps as I in after years,
As looking here to see
Some vestige of the living that was theirs,
Some trace of yesterday,
Somae hint or remnant, echo, clue--some thing,
Some very little thing of what was they.
Sure such are near! Else were it not so still
This evening,
So human-still and warm and kind.
'Tis as of many moved
In unison of will and mind to sing
Low litanies to that which they had wholly loved.
How sweet it is
Under the perishable trees
To hear the wings of the one human soul
Fluttering up
In Time's dark branches to the lucid stars.
More than Despair is Hope,
And more than Hope is the Hope that despairs,
And more than all
Is Love that disbelieves the real years.

Here in this place
One August morning--when the earlier crowd,
Showmen or populace,
From many a region and of curious face,
Abroad the holiday
Quaint in the sun with garb and gesture glowed,
And, speaking grave or gay
The various accent of their lonely race,
Between the shadowy gold bazars idled away--
She, as a cloud
All sunrise-coloured and alone,
Thro' the blue summer tremblin came to me.
I dried her tears and here we sat us down.
Little by little, as tripping oversea
On flame-tipped waves the daylight's long surprise
Sweeps world and heaven in one,
So love across our eyes
Broke with the sun.
Happy we walked away. The fairy sight
Untangling shook a thousand chequered fires.
Low under scarlet awnings rung on rung,
Copper and bronze and azurite,
Ranged on the sagging wires
The trifles clinked in the red light.
From beam and niche vendors in strange attires,
Slipping dark hands along,
Unhooked the quiet wool, the gaudy chintz,
Or, precious where it hung,
Long fluid jewels of auroral silk:
And dryly to the sense
Their attars old and dusty powders clung.
Still passed the weavers and the dyers
Many a jar, a bowl
Turned as of water or of milk--
Glazen and jade and porcelain--
Far down the shadows colouring stole.
As one had shook a jungle after rain
And basketing the drops at random spilled
Their red and green, their topaz and sapphires,
All were here piled.--
And wandering out we smiled
To see across the glowing noon so high,
So high and far,
The incandescent minarets and domes and spires
Lifting the fusion of the coloured choirs
To the sky
Softly--save only where
A flag or pennant fallen slack
Shotted the dazzling air.
I came to-day to find her, I came back
Humble with sweet desires
Across this dun September atmosphere
To her.
I came, I knew she was not here:
Now let me go.
I came, I come because I love her so.

Not in the acres of the Soul
Does Nature drive the ploughshare of her change.
It is not strange
That here in part and whole
The faithful eye sees all things as before.
For past the newer flowers,
Above the recent trees and clouds come o'er,
Love finds the other hours
Once more.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:15 min read

Trumbull Stickney

Joseph Trumbull Stickney was an American classical scholar and poet. more…

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