Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1861–1889
Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889
Leaves at my Window
By John James Piatt (1835–1917)
I WATCH the leaves that flutter in the wind,
Bathing my eyes with coolness and my heart
Filling with springs of grateful sense anew,
Before my window—in the sun and rain,
And now the wind is gone and now the rain,        5
And all a motionless moment breathe, and now
Playful the wind comes back—again the shower,
Again the sunshine! Like a golden swarm
Of butterflies the leaves are fluttering,
The leaves are dancing, singing—all alive        10
(For Fancy gives her breath to every leaf)
For the blithe moment. Beautiful to me,
Of all inanimate things most beautiful,
And dear as flowers their kindred, are the leaves
In all their summer life; and, when a child,        15
I loved to lie through sunny afternoons
With half-shut eyes (familiar eyes with things
Long unfamiliar, knowing Fairyland
And all the unhidden mysteries of the Earth)
Using my kinship in those earlier days        20
With Nature and the humbler people, dear
To her green life, in every shade and sun.
The leaves had myriad voices, and their joy
One with the birds’ that sang among them seemed;
And, oftentimes, I lay in breezy shade        25
Till, creeping with the loving stealth he takes
In healthy temperaments, the blessèd Sleep
(Thrice-blessèd and thrice-blessing now, because
Of sleepless things that will not give us rest)
Came with his weird processions—dreams that wore        30
All happy masks—blithe fairies numberless,
Forever passing, never more to pass,
The Spirits of the Leaves. Awaking then,
Behold the sun was swimming in my face
Through mists of his creations, swarming gold,        35
And all the leaves in sultry languor lay
Above me, for I wakened when they dropped
Asleep, unmoving. Now, when Time has ceased
His holiday, and I am prisoned close
In his harsh service, mastered by his Hours,        40
The leaves have not forgotten me: behold,
They play with me like children who, awake,
Find one most dear asleep and waken him
To their own gladness from his sultry dream;
But nothing sweeter do they give to me        45
Than thoughts of one who, far away, perchance
Watches like me the leaves and thinks of me
While o’er her window, sunnily the shower
Touches all boughs to music, and the rose
Beneath swings lovingly toward the pane,        50
And she, whom Nature gave the freshest sense
For all her delicate life, rejoices in
The joy of birds that use the sun to sing
With breasts o’erfull of music. “Little Birds,”
She sings, “Sing to my little Bird below!”        55
And with her child-like fancy, half-belief,
She hears them sing and makes-believe they obey,
And the child, wakening, listens motionless.

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