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
 
Unreturning
By Elizabeth Drew Barstow Stoddard (1823–1902)
 
NOW all the flowers that ornament the grass,
Wherever meadows are and placid brooks,
Must fall—the “glory of the grass” must fall.
Year after year I see them sprout and spread—
The golden, glossy, tossing buttercups,        5
The tall, straight daisies and red clover globes,
The swinging bellwort and the blue-eyed blade,
With nameless plants as perfect in their hues—
Perfect in root and branch, their plan of life,
As if the intention of a soul were there:        10
I see them flourish as I see them fall!
 
  But he, who once was growing with the grass,
And blooming with the flowers, my little son,
Fell, withered—dead, nor has revived again!
Perfect and lovely, needful to my sight,        15
Why comes he not to ornament my days?
The barren fields forget their barrenness.
The soulless earth mates with these soulless things,
Why should I not obtain my recompense?
The budding spring should bring, or summer’s prime,        20
At least a vision of the vanished child,
And let his heart commune with mine again,
Though in a dream—his life was but a dream;
Then might I wait with patient cheerfulness—
That cheerfulness which keeps one’s tears unshed        25
And blinds the eyes with pain—the passage slow
Of other seasons, and be still and cold
As the earth is when shrouded in the snow,
Or passive, like it, when the boughs are stripped
In autumn, and the leaves roll everywhere.        30
 
  And he should go again; for winter’s snows,
And autumn’s melancholy voice, in winds,
In waters, and in woods, belong to me—
To me, a faded soul; for, as I said,
The sense of all his beauty—sweetness—comes        35
When blossoms are the sweetest; when the sea,
Sparkling and blue, cries to the sun in joy,
Or, silent, pale, and misty waits the night,
Till the moon, pushing through the veiling cloud,
Hangs naked in its heaving solitude:        40
When feathery pines wave up and down the shore,
And the vast deep above holds gentle stars,
And the vast world beneath hides him from me!
 
 
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