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1885 - 1928
I shall lie hidden in a hut
In the middle of an alder wood,
Wich the back door blind and bolted shut,
And the front door locked for good.
I shall lie folded like a saint,
Lapped in a scented linen sheet,
On a bedstead striped with bright-blue paint,
Narrow and cold and neat.
The midnight will be glassy black
Behind the panes, which wind about
To set his mouth against a crack
And blow the candle out.
- WHEN the world turns completely upside down
- You say we'll emigrate to the Eastern Shore
- Aboard a river-boat from Baltimore;
- We'll live among wild peach trees, miles from town,
- You'll wear a coonskin cap, and I a gown
- Homespun, dyed butternut's dark gold colour.
- Lost, like your lotus-eating ancestor,
- We'll swim in milk and honey till we drown.
- The winter will be short, the summer long,
- The autumn amber-hued, sunny and hot,
- Tasting of cider and of scuppernong;
- All seasons sweet, but autumn best of all.
- The squirrels in their silver fur will fall
- Like falling leaves, like fruit, before your shot.
- The autumn frosts will lie upon the grass
- Like bloom on grapes of purple-brown and gold.
- The misted early mornings will be cold;
- The little puddles will be roofed with glass.
- The sun, which burns from copper into brass,
- Melts these at noon, and makes the boys unfold
- Their knitted mufflers; full as they can hold
- Fat pockets dribble chestnuts as they pass.
- Peaches grow wild, and pigs can live in clover;
- A barrel of salted herrings lasts a year;
- The spring begins before the winter's over.
- By February you may find the skins
- Of garter snakes and water moccasins
- Dwindled and harsh, dead-white and cloudy-clear.
- When April pours the colours of a shell
- Upon the hills, when every little creek
- Is shot with silver from the Chesapeake
- In shoals new-minted by the ocean swell,
- When strawberries go begging, and the sleek
- Blue plums lie open to the blackbird's beak,
- We shall live well -- we shall live very well.
- The months between the cherries and the peaches
- Are brimming cornucopias which spill
- Fruits red and purple, sombre-bloomed and black;
- Then, down rich fields and frosty river beaches
- We'll trample bright persimmons, while you kill
- Bronze partridge, speckled quail, and canvasback.
- Down to the Puritan marrow of my bones
- There's something in this richness that I hate.
- I love the look, austere, immaculate,
- Of landscapes drawn in pearly monotones.
- There's something in my very blood that owns
- Bare hills, cold silver on a sky of slate,
- A thread of water, churned to milky spate
- Streaming through slanted pastures fenced with stones.
- I love those skies, thin blue or snowy gray,
- Those fields sparse-planted, rendering meagre sheaves;
- That spring, briefer than apple-blossom's breath,
- Summer, so much too beautiful to stay,
- Swift autumn, like a bonfire of leaves,
- And sleepy winter, like the sleep of death.
© 2000 Elena and