Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
August 12
Helen Hunt Jackson
By Ina D. Coolbrith (1841–1928)
          An American writer of poems and novels. She was much interested in the Indians and was appointed special commissioner to inquire into the condition of the Mission Indians in California. She died on August 12, 1885.

WHAT songs found voice upon those lips,
  What magic dwelt within the pen,
Whose music into silence slips,
  Whose spell lives not again!
For her the clamorous to-day        5
  The dreamful yesterday became;
The brands upon dead hearths that lay
  Leapt into living flame.
Clear ring the silvery mission bells
  Their calls to vesper and to mass;        10
O’er vineyard slopes, through fruited dells,
  The long processions pass;
The pale Franciscan lifts in air
  The Cross above the kneeling throng;
Their simple world how sweet with prayer,        15
  With chant and matin-song!
There, with her dimpled lifted hands,
  Parting the mustard’s golden plumes,
The dusky maid, Ramona, stands
  Amid the sea of blooms.        20
And Alessandro, type of all
  His broken tribe, for evermore
An exile, hears the stranger call
  Within his father’s door.
The visions vanish and are not,        25
  Still are the sounds of peace and strife,—
Passed with the earnest heart and thought
  Which lured them back to life.
O sunset land! O land of vine!
  And rose, and bay! in silence here        30
Let fall one little leaf of thine,
  With love, upon her bier.

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