Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century
Alfred H. Miles, ed.  Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
Twilight Hours.
II. The Life of a Leaf
By Sarah Williams (“Sadie”) (1841–1868)
(From “Nature Apostate”)

I.—The Bud
CLOSE within a downy cover
  Here at rest I lie,
Half awake and half in slumber
  While the storms go by.
Sometimes vague impatient strivings        5
  Stir my life within;
Hopes of being something worthy,
  Longing to begin.
Then again a soft contentment
  Broodeth o’er my state;        10
When the time comes I am ready,
  Until then I wait.
II.—The Leaflet
Is this then life? ’Tis glorious, so fair!
  The sweet soft breezes playing round our rest,
The summer fragrance growing everywhere,        15
  The happy birds low cooing in their nest.
What meant the fear with which we put on life?
  It is all good, and hope comes after joy;
Come anything in this delightsome strife,
  Storms cannot daunt us, sunshine cannot cloy.        20
III.—Summer Leaf
Kiss me, kiss me, kingly sun,
  Till I glow with crimson light,
Till along my veins shall run
  Liquid lustre glistening bright.
Let thy touch so piercing sweet        25
  Hold me close and thrill me through,
Till I faint with languid heat,
  Till for rest from thee I sue;
Hear me not, O king of light!
  Let me die within thy sight.        30
IV.—Autumn Leaf
I wonder what has vanished from the world,
  It was so bright a little while ago;
And now we leaves upon the branches curled
  Hang wearily, just swaying to and fro.
The sun shines on, the cruel biting sun,        35
  He will not veil one smile to ease our pain;
What matter that, so his great course is run?
  The subjects suffer, but the king must reign
  We are too weary even to complain.
The desperate clutch at the last weak hold
  Grows looser and looser and looser;
The dizzying leap into depths untold
  Comes closer and closer and closer.
            Quivering, shivering,
              Drawn from below,        45
            Where shall we vanish to?
              How shall we go?
            Leaving the upper air,
              Heaviness everywhere,
            Fallen on dull despair,        50
              Here we lie low.
Let me sleep, it is so sweet to slumber,—
  All of sweetness that remaineth still;
Swift the drenching rains and frosts of winter
  Rid the earth of worn-out things of ill.        55
It may be some good there was within us
  May survive this discipline of pain;
May not die but change its outward substance
  May revive in other leaves again.

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