Best Poems From
(15 August 1858 – 4 May 1924)
The Things That Matter
NOW that I've nearly done my days,
And grown too stiff to sweep or sew,
I sit and think, till I'm amaze,
About what lots of things I know:
Things as I've found out one by one--
And when I'm fast down in the clay,
My knowing things and how they're done
Will all be lost and thrown away.
There's things, I know, as won't be lost,
Things as folks write and talk about:
The way to keep your roots from frost,
And how to get your ink spots out.
What medicine's good for sores and sprains,
What way to salt your butter down,
What charms will cure your different pains,
And what will bright your faded gown.
But more important things than these,
They can't be written in a book:
How fast to boil your greens and peas,
And how good bacon ought to look;
The feel of real good wearing stuff,
The kind of apple as will keep,
The look of bread that's rose enough,
And how to get a child asleep.
Whether the jam is fit to pot,
Whether the milk is going to turn,
Whether a hen will lay or not,
Is things as some folks never learn.
I know the weather by the sky,
I know what herbs grow in what lane;
And if sick men are going to die,
Or if they'll get about again.
Young wives come in, a-smiling, grave,
With secrets that they itch to tell:
I know what sort of times they'll have,
And if they'll have a boy or gell.
And if a lad is ill to bind,
Or some young maid is hard to lead,
I know when you should speak 'em kind,
And when it's scolding as they need.
I used to know where birds ud set,
And likely spots for trout or hare,
And God may want me to forget
The way to set a line or snare;
But not the way to truss a chick,
To fry a fish, or baste a roast,
Nor how to tell, when folks are sick,
What kind of herb will ease them most!
Forgetting seems such silly waste!
I know so many little things,
And now the Angels will make haste
To dust it all away with wings!
O God, you made me like to know,
You kept the things straight in my head,
Please God, if you can make it so,
Let me know something when I'm dead.
A Kentish Garden
THERE is a grey-walled garden, far away
From noise and smoke of cities, where the hours
Pass with soft wings among the happy flowers,
And lovely leisure blossoms every day.
There, tall and white, the sceptral lily blows;
There grow the pansy, pink, and columbine,
Brave hollyhocks, and star-white jessamine,
And the red glory of the royal rose.
There greeny glow-worms gem the dusky lawn,
The lime-trees breathe their fragrance to the night,
Pink roses sleep, and dream that they are white,
Until they wake to colour with the dawn.
There, in the splendour of the sultry noon,
The sunshine sleeps upon the garden bed
Where the white poppy droops a drowsy head
And dreams of kisses from the white full moon.
And there, some days, all wild with wind and rain,
The tossed trees show the white side of their leaves,
While the great drops drip from the ivied eaves,
And birds are still--till the sun shines again.
And there, all days, my heart goes wandering,
Because there, first, my heart began to know
The glories of the summer and the snow,
The loveliness of harvest and of spring.
There may be fairer gardens; but I know
There is no other garden half so dear;
Because 'tis there, this many, many a year,
The sacred, sweet, white flowers of memory grow!
At Evening Time There Shall Be Light
THE day was wild with wind and rain,
One grey wrapped sky and sea and shore,
It seemed our marsh would never again
Wear the rich robes that once it wore.
The scattered farms looked sad and chill,
Their sheltering trees writhed all awry,
And waves of mist broke on the hill
Where once the great sea thundered by.
Then God remembered this His land,
This little land that is our own,
He caught the rain up in His hand,
He hid the winds behind His throne,
He soothed the fretful waves to rest,
He called the clouds to come away,
And, by blue pathways, to the west,
They went, like children tired of play.
And then God bade our marsh put on
Its holy vestment of fine gold;
From marge to marge the glory shone
On lichened farm and fence and fold;
In the gold sky that walled the west,
In each transfigured stone and tree,
The glory of God was manifest,
Plain for a little child to see!
I WANDERED lonely by the sea,
As is my daily use,
I saw her drive across the lea
The gander and the goose.
The gander and the gray, gray goose,
She drove them all together;
Her cheeks were rose, her gold hair loose,
All in the wild gray weather.
'O dainty maid who drive the geese
Across the common wide,
Turn, turn your pretty back on these
And come and be my bride.
I am a poet from the town,
And, 'mid the ladies there,
There is not one would wear a crown
With half your charming air!'
She laughed, she shook her pretty head.
'I want no poet's hand;
Go read your fairy-books,' she said,
'For this is fairy-land.
My Prince comes riding o'er the leas;
He fitly comes to woo,
For I'm a Princess, and my geese
Were poets, once, like you!'