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English Poetry. Edmund Clarence Stedman. The Heart of New England. Эдмунд Кларенс Стедман.

Edmund Clarence Stedman (Эдмунд Кларенс Стедман)

The Heart of New England

O long are years of waiting, when lovers' hearts are bound
By words that hold in life and death, and last the half-world round;
Long, long for him who wanders far and strives with all his main,
But crueller yet for her who bides at home and hides her pain!
⁠     And lone are the homes of New England.

'T was in the mellow summer I heard her sweet reply;
The barefoot lads and lassies a-berrying went by;
The locust dinned amid the trees; the fields were high with corn;
The white-sailed clouds against the sky like ships were onward borne:
⁠     And blue are the skies of New England.

Her lips were like the raspberries; her cheek was soft and fair,
And little breezes stopped to lift the tangle of her hair;
A light was in her hazel eyes, and she was nothing loth
To hear the words her lover spoke, and pledged me there her troth;
     ⁠And true is the word of New England.

When September brought the golden-rod, and maples burned like fire,
And bluer than in August rose the village smoke and higher,
And large and red among the stacks the ripened pumpkins shone,—
One hour, in which to say farewell, was left to us alone;
     ⁠And sweet are the lanes of New England.

We loved each other truly! hard, hard it was to part;
But my ring was on her finger, and her hair lay next my heart.
"'T is but a year, my darling," I said ; "in one short year,
When our Western home is ready, I shall seek my Katie here";
⁠     And brave is the hope of New England.

I went to gain a home for her, and in the Golden State
With head and hand I planned and toiled, and early worked and late;
But luck was all against me, and sickness on me lay,
And ere I got my strength again 't was many a weary day;
⁠     And long are the thoughts of New England.

And many a day, and many a month, and thrice the tolling year,
I bravely strove, and still the goal seemed never yet more near.
My Katie's letters told me that she kept her promise true,
But now, for very hopelessness, my own to her were few;
⁠     And stern is the pride of New England.

But still she trusted in me, though sick with hope deferred;
No more among the village choir her voice was sweetest heard;
For when the wild northeaster of the fourth long winter blew,
So thin her frame with pining, the cold wind pierced her through;
⁠     And chill are the blasts of New England.

At last my fortunes bettered, on the far Pacific shore,
And I thought to see old Windham and my patient love once more;
When a kinsman's letter reached me: "Come at once, or come too late!
Your Katie's strength is failing; if you love her, do not wait:
⁠     Come back to the elms of New England."

O, it wrung my heart with sorrow! I left all else behind,
And straight for dear New England I speeded like the wind.
The day and night were blended till I reached my boyhood's home,
And the old cliffs seemed to mock me that I had not sooner come;
⁠     And gray are the rocks of New England.

I could not think 't was Katie, who sat before me there
Reading her Bible—'t was my gift—and pillowed in her chair.
A ring, with all my letters, lay on a little stand,—
She could no longer wear it, so frail her poor, white hand!
     ⁠But strong is the love of New England.

Her hair had lost its tangle and was parted off her brow;
She used to be a joyous girl,—but seemed an angel now,—
Heaven's darling, mine no longer; yet in her hazel eyes
The same dear love-light glistened, as she soothed my bitter cries:
⁠     And pure is the faith of New England.

A month I watched her dying, pale, pale as any rose
That drops its petals one by one and sweetens as it goes.
My life was darkened when at last her large eyes closed in death,
And I heard my own name whispered as she drew her parting breath;
⁠     Still, still was the heart of New England.

It was a woful funeral the coming sabbath-day;
We bore her to the barren hill on which the graveyard lay,
And when the narrow grave was filled, and what we might was done,
Of all the stricken group around I was the loneliest one;
⁠     And drear are the hills of New England.

I gazed upon the stunted pines, the bleak November sky,
And knew that buried deep with her my heart henceforth would lie;
And waking in the solemn nights my thoughts still thither go
To Katie, lying in her grave beneath the winter snow;
⁠     And cold are the snows of New England.

Edmund Clarence Stedman’s other poems:

  1. The Lord’s-Day Gale
  2. Cousin Lucrece
  3. The Monument of Greeley
  4. “Ubi Sunt Qui Ante Nos?”
  5. Ariel

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