The shadow of Death's wing had fallen grey
Upon her face, the mother-face, our star
Of home since life first read its calendar
Within our smiles; we felt her slip away,
Our vain hold clinging to an empty clay,
Down that hushed valley where the white mists are,
On to its utmost verge, so far, so far
That her return was but as spirits may
Briefly revisit earth. For oh, she shone
Transfigured, yet so winsome, that our awe
Was blended with her own beatitude.
The burden of her fourscore years was gone;
Escaped from Time, she mocked his mighty law;
Her children looked upon her maidenhood.
Eager and shy, as when among her peers
A girl will pour her confidence, she told
In voice where laughter ran a thread of gold
A history all novel to our ears.
Her blissful eyes oblivious of tears,
With lingering touch she one by one unrolled
Her bridal memories from fold on fold
Of fragrant silence. Dead thse fifty years
Was he with whom, young hand in hand, she went
To their first home, which simple neighbor-folk
Had filled with garden-bloom and forest scent;
Yet still of him, and that June path they fared,
Those welcoming flowers, her failing accents spoke;
--Of how Love led her to a place prepared.
When the bruised heart, bewildered first and numb,
Quickened to pain, how passing strange it seemed
To miss her comfort! She, who still esteemed
Old lore above the schools, would she not come
With potency of hoarded balsamum,
To heal the hurt? Thus craving her, I dreamed.
Before me, sundering east from west, there gleamed
A marble wall, illimitable, dumb,
A blank of white! when lo, her own sweet face,
With no more halo than the crispy lace
I knew so well, from sudden casement smiled,
--Her blithe, audacious self, infringing so
With stolen peep Death's new punctiliom,
Breaking his code to reassure her child.