Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward

The Lost Winter

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Deep-hearted as an untried joy
The warm light blushes on the bay,
And placid as long happiness
The perfect sky of Florida.


Silent and swift the gulls wheel by,--
Fair silver spots seen flittingly
To sparkle like lost thoughts, and dip
And vanish in a silver sea.


And green with an immortal spring
The little lonely islands stand;
And lover-like, the winds caress
The fresh-plucked roses in my hand.


And sweet with all the scents of June,
And gentle with the breath of May,
And passionate with harvest calm,
Dawns the strange face of Christmas-day.


O vanished world of ache and chill!
If purple-cold the shadows blow
Somewhere upon the shrunken cheeks
Of wan, tormented drifts of snow;


And if, beneath the steady stare
Of a pale sunset's freezing eye,
The coming tempest, lurking, stabs
The lonely traveller hurrying by,--1


What art can make me understand?
What care I, can I care to know?
Star-like, among the tender grass,
The little white wild-flowers show!


There is no winter in the world!
There is no winter anywhere!
Earth turns her face upon her arm,
And sleeps within the golden air.


If once within the story told--
Of peace or pain, of calm or strife--
The clear revealéd sequencés
Of every finished human life,


It chanceth that the record reads:
This wanderer, something torn and tossed
By certain storms he had passed through,
And something faint and chilly, lost


Just here a little while the sense
Of winter from his heavy heart,
And felt within his life the roots
Of spring eternal stir and start;


Could not one blessed little while,
For very happiness, believe
That anywhere upon God's earth
Souls could be cold and worn and live,--


That blessed once a glory were
Enough, I think, to crown one's days.
O swift-departing days of youth,
Lend me your evanescent grace


Of fancy, while my graver years
Like happy children rise and bless
The shadow of the memory of
Love's sweet and helpless selfishness!


Ah, many, many years shall learn
To blush and bloom as young years may,
But only once the soul forget
All else but its own Florida!

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