Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
489. In Vain
By Rose Terry Cooke
PUT every tiny robe away!
The stitches all were set with tears,
Slow, tender drops of joys; to-day
Their rain would wither hopes or fears:
Bitter enough to daunt the moth        5
That longs to fret this dainty cloth.
The filmy lace, the ribbons blue,
The tracery deft of flower and leaf,
The fairy shapes that bloomed and grew
Through happy moments all too brief.        10
The warm, soft wraps. O God! how cold
It must be in that wintry mould!
Fold carefully the broidered wool:
Its silken wreaths will ne’er grow old,
And lay the linen soft and cool        15
Above it gently, fold on fold.
So lie the snows on that soft breast,
Where mortal garb will never rest.
How many days in dreamed delight,
With listless fingers, working slow,        20
I fashioned them from morn till night
And smiled to see them slowly grow.
I thought the task too late begun;
Alas! how soon it all was done!
Go lock them in a cedar chest,        25
And never bring me back the key!
Will hiding lay this ghost to rest,
Or the turned lock give peace to me?
No matter!—only that I dread
Lest other eyes behold my dead.        30
I would have laid them in that grave
To perish too, like any weed;
But legends tell that they who save
Such garments, ne’er the like will need:
But give or burn them,—need will be;        35
I want but one such memory!


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