Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1835–1860
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. VI–VIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 1835–1860
 
Bertha
By Anne Whitney (1821–1915)
 
[Born in Watertown, Mass. Died in Boston, Mass., 1915. Poems. 1859.]

THE LEAVES have fallen from the trees,
  For under them grew the buds of May;
  And such is constant Nature’s way;
    Let us accept the work of her hand:
If the wild winds sweep bare the height,        5
Still something is left for heart’s delight—
    Let us but know and understand.
 
Bertha looked from the rocky cliff,
  Whose foot the tender foam-wreaths kissed,
  Towards the outer circle of mist        10
    That hedged the old and wonderful sea;
Below her as if with endless hope,
Up the beach’s marble slope,
    The waters clomb unweariedly.
 
Many a long-bleached sail in sight        15
  Hovered awhile, then flitted away
  Beyond the opening of the bay.
    Fair Bertha entered her cottage late:
“He does not come,” she said, and smiled,
“But the shore is dark and the sea is wild,        20
    And, dearest Father, we still must wait.”
 
She hastened to her inner room,
  And silently mused there alone:
  “Three springs have come—three winters gone,
    And still we wait from hour to hour;        25
But earth waits long for her harvest time,
And the aloe, in the northern clime,
    Waits an hundred years for its flower.
 
“Under the apple boughs as I sit
  In May-time, when the robin’s song        30
  Thrills the odorous winds along,
    The innermost heaven seems to ope;—
I think, though the old joys pass from sight,
Still something is left for heart’s delight—
    For life is endless and so is hope.        35
 
“If the aloe wait an hundred years,
  And God’s times are so long, indeed,
  For simple things, as flower and weed,
    That gather only the light and gloom,—
For what great treasures of joy and dole,        40
Of life, and death perchance, must the soul,
    Ere it flower in heavenly peace, find room!
 
“I see that all things wait in trust,
  As feeling afar God’s distant ends,
  And unto every creature he sends        45
    That measure of good that fills its scope:
The marmot enters the stiffening mould,
And the worm its dark, sepulchral fold,
    To hide there with its beautiful hope.”
 
Yet Bertha waited on the cliff,        50
  To catch the gleam of a coming sail,
  And the distant whisper of the gale
    Winging the unforgotten home;
And hope at her yearning heart would knock,
When a sunbeam on a far-off rock        55
    Married a wreath of wandering foam.
 
Was it well? you ask—(nay, was it ill?)
  Who sat last year by the old man’s hearth,—
  The sun had passed below the earth,
    And the first star locked his western gate,        60
When Bertha entered her darkening home,
And smiling, said: “He does not come,
    But, dearest Father, we still can wait!”
 
 
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