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Kowhai Gold

[Helena Henderson]

La Vieillesse
I shall grow old and older,
And wise as wise can be,
And young men and maidens
Will love to sit with me.

I shall walk very gravely
With slow feet on the grass,
And young children playing
Will hush to let me pass.

I shall sit looking outward
Over a wide sea
And birds will flock about me
And make small talk with me.

page 88

And these will be for jewels
From far tropic lands,
Two eyes of topaz
And two ivory hands.

Time will go stepping softly,
In cool amber days,
And I shall step beside him
Down undiscovered ways.

And I shall step beside him,
Not faint or overbold,
But bravely, very bravely,
When I am wise and old.

Earth Hold Him
Earth hold him; he was so wise,
The light in his eyes

Was passionless, placid and deep;
Oh, soft be his sleep.

Earth hold him: graves are so dim,
Be tender to him.

Enfold him, and wrap him and make
Him warm for my sake,

page 89

Who basked in the light of his eyes.
Some day he will rise

And step with winged feet to the wind,
And you, left behind,

Will burgeon with samite and gold,
Springing soft from the mould,

Because, for a light, loving whim,
You were tender to him.

Grey Days
I love these soft, still, pearl and opal days.
The sun, like a shy lover, hides his face,
Yet all his ardour filters through the haze
Like glow-worm light in a grey shadowy place.
The trees stand breathless. No exulting wind
Goes singing through them loosening from their hold
The spent, sad leaves that autumn-long have pined
To dance a dervish-dance in showers of gold.
There are so many days that fill my heart,
Bronze days and blue days and the days of Spring;
But a soft grey day is a thing apart,
The filmy bloom upon a linnet's wing.
There may be in the calendars of Heaven
One pearl and opal day in every seven.

page 90

Some day the silvery Spring-tide
Will come on silvery feet,
In through the little gateway
That opens to the street,

Will come with slender fingers
A-tapping at my door,
And I, who loved the Spring-tide,
Will answer her no more.

I shall not see the glory
That shines upon her face,
I shall be straitly lying
In some green, quiet place.

But I shall feel her footsteps
Light on my sleeping head,
And there will come a stirring
Among the sleeping dead.

Soft as the breath of roses
Upon the scented air—
Then will they sleep more sweetly,
Knowing the Spring is there.

And I shall rest serenely,
Through heat and winter rains,
Knowing my blood runs redly
Like wine, in other veins;

page 91

Hearing, like faintest music
From far, slow-swinging spheres
Voices of children's laughter
Go singing down the years.

They say the streets of Heaven
Are paved with beaten gold,
And the white walls of Heaven
Are marble-white and cold.
They say the harps of Heaven
Make tenderest melody
That lifts and falls, unresting,
Like waves upon the sea.
But I shall know no Heaven
Without a blue-domed sky,
And the bronzed feet of Autumn
Gallantly going by,
And I shall know no Heaven
Except it bring to me
The high, tumultuous fluting
Of birds in a windy tree.