A Day of Memories.

From: The Bird and the Bell with Other Poems (1875)
Author: Christopher Pearse Cranch
Published: Osgood and Company 1875 Boston


THIS is the road, up through the corn and clover;
And yonder, the first turning, is the lane.
And that’s the house; they’ve painted it all over,
So white, I scarce should know the old place again.

Yet the same dear old house. How well I know it!
Though changed, and with another face, like me.
‘T was here love taught me first to be a poet,—
Or think I was, the rhyming flowed so free.

Still round the porch the honeysuckles clamber,
But thicker grown, where hand in hand we stood,
And watched the crimson clouds and sky of amber
Grow gray and dusk beyond the distant wood.

That was her window. There I serenaded
Once in the moonlight of a night in June.
The verses were my own; I sang unaided,
Save by my light guitar, my summer tune.

Ah, what warm sonnets did my muse then scatter
Like wild and golden fruitage from a tree;
And knew that naught I wrote or sang could flatter
One who outshone all pearls of poesy!

And she was won; and we were pledged forever;
And yet were parted,—why, I hardly know.
Some fate, but dimly seen, befell to sever
Two who seemed one so many years ago.

The dear old place! the landscape still unaltered,—
The stream below, the cedar-trees above;
The same stone-wall and lilacs where I faltered
The first words, strange and sweet, of boyish love.

Here, up the lane, the broad elms still are growing,
Each bough unscarred, but larger than of yore.
Yet yonder, where that stranger now is mowing,
I see they’ve felled my favorite sycamore.

How could they do it? In its shade we parted;
Or was it wrecked by storm, or lightning blaze?
Like those who kissed their last there, broken-hearted,
At least they thought so, in those tender days.

And yonder was a stately beech-tree, slanting
Across the stream. There once I carved her name.
‘Tis gone, and flags and water-weeds are flaunting
Along the brookside, changed, yet still the same.

That parting was like death. But youth’s elastic;
And hers recovered; so did mine at last.
The world is wide, and human hearts too plastic
To harden in an unrelenting past.

And far apart her path and mine diverging,
Each with its separate cares and hopes and dreams,
Long since was stilled young love’s tumultuous surging,
Long since new ties have dimmed those early gleams.

And yet, though wounds will heal, the scars forever
Cling to the flesh that quivered once, now still;
And there are times when boyhood’s pain and fever
Will wake again with momentary thrill.

So, while I roam about these well-known places,
Haunted by visions all so sadly sweet,
Those tender tones of old, those mystic graces,
Seem to prelude the flying of her feet.

Those voices come no more but in my dreaming,
Too vague to take a shape in uttered words.
Those footsteps in a world remote are gleaming,
Mine only when I touch the poet’s chords.

All Sub-Works of The Bird and the Bell with Other Poems (1875):
PDF Sub-Works open in a new tab. Close the tab when done viewing to return here.