Where the thistle lifts a purple crown Six foot out of the turf, And the harebell shakes on the windy hill— O the breath of the distant surf!— The hills look over on the South, And southward dreams the sea; And, with the sea-breeze hand in hand, Came innocence and she. Where ’mid the gorse the raspberry Red for the gatherer springs, Two children did we stray and talk Wise, idle, childish things. She listened with big-lipped surprise, Breast-deep mid flower and spine: Her skin was like a grape, whose veins Run snow instead of wine. She knew not those sweet words she spake, Nor knew her own sweet way; But there’s never a bird, so sweet a song Thronged in whose throat that day! Oh, there were flowers in Storrington On the turf and on the spray; But the sweetest flower on Sussex hills Was the Daisy-flower that day! Her beauty smoothed earth’s furrowed face! She gave me tokens three:— A look, a word of her winsome mouth, And a wild raspberry. A berry red, a guileless look, A still word,—strings of sand! And yet they made my wild, wild heart Fly down to her little hand. For standing artless as the air, And candid as the skies, She took the berries with her hand, And the love with her sweet eyes. The fairest things have fleetest end: Their scent survives their close, But the rose’s scent is bitterness To him that loved the rose! She looked a little wistfully, Then went her sunshine way:— The sea’s eye had a mist on it, And the leaves fell from the day. She went her unremembering way, She went and left in me The pang of all the partings gone, And partings yet to be. She left me marvelling why my soul Was sad that she was glad; At all the sadness in the sweet, The sweetness in the sad. Still, still I seemed to see her, still Look up with soft replies, And take the berries with her hand, And the love with her lovely eyes. Nothing begins, and nothing ends, That is not paid with moan; For we are born in other’s pain, And perish in our own.
Francis Thompson’s other poems:
- Epilogue to the Poet’s Sitter
- The Child-Woman
- Poet and Anchorite
- The Mirage
- To a Child Heard Repeating Her Mother’s Verses
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