Oscar Wilde |
Tread lightly, she is near
Under the snow,
Speak gently, she can hear
The daisies grow.
All her bright golden hair
Tarnished with rust,
She that was young and fair
Fallen to dust.
Lily-like, white as snow,
She hardly knew
She was a woman, so
Sweetly she grew.
Coffin-board, heavy stone,
Lie on her breast,
I vex my heart alone,
She is at rest.
Peace, Peace, she cannot hear
Lyre or sonnet,
All my life's buried here,
Heap earth upon it.
Julia Ward Howe |
The shell of objects inwardly consumed
Will stand, till some convulsive wind awakes;
Such sense hath Fire to waste the heart of things,
Nature, such love to hold the form she makes.
Thus, wasted joys will show their early bloom,
Yet crumble at the breath of a caress;
The golden fruitage hides the scathèd bough,
Snatch it, thou scatterest wide its emptiness.
For pleasure bidden, I went forth last night
To where, thick hung, the festal torches gleamed;
Here were the flowers, the music, as of old,
Almost the very olden time it seemed.
For one with cheek unfaded, (though he brings
My buried brothers to me, in his look,)
Said, `Will you dance?' At the accustomed words
I gave my hand, the old position took.
Sound, gladsome measure! at whose bidding once
I felt the flush of pleasure to my brow,
While my soul shook the burthen of the flesh,
And in its young pride said, `Lie lightly thou!'
Then, like a gallant swimmer, flinging high
My breast against the golden waves of sound,
I rode the madd'ning tumult of the dance,
Mocking fatigue, that never could be found.
Chide not,--it was not vanity, nor sense,
(The brutish scorn such vaporous delight,)
But Nature, cadencing her joy of strength
To the harmonious limits of her right.
She gave her impulse to the dancing Hours,
To winds that sweep, to stars that noiseless turn;
She marked the measure rapid hearts must keep
Devised each pace that glancing feet should learn.
And sure, that prodigal o'erflow of life,
Unvow'd as yet to family or state,
Sweet sounds, white garments, flowery coronals
Make holy, in the pageant of our fate.
Sound, measure! but to stir my heart no more--
For, as I moved to join the dizzy race,
My youth fell from me; all its blooms were gone,
And others showed them, smiling, in my face.
Faintly I met the shock of circling forms
Linked each to other, Fashion's galley-slaves,
Dream-wondering, like an unaccustomed ghost
That starts, surprised, to stumble over graves.
For graves were 'neath my feet, whose placid masks
Smiled out upon my folly mournfully,
While all the host of the departed said,
`Tread lightly--thou art ashes, even as we.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox |
Beside a crib that holds a baby’s stocking,
A tattered picture book, a broken toy,
A sleeping mother dreams that she is rocking
Her fair-haired cherub boy.
Upon the cradle’s side her light touch keeping,
She gently rocks it, crooning low a song;
And smiles to think her little one is sleeping,
So peacefully and long.
Step light, breathe low, break not her rapturous dreaming,
Wake not the sleeper from her trance of joy,
For never more save in sweet slumber-seeming
Will she watch o’er her little boy.
God pity her when from her dream Elysian
She wakes to see the empty crib, and weep;
Knowing her joy was but a sleeper’s vision,
Tread lightly – let her sleep.