by Celia Thaxter

The long black ledges are white with gulls,
As if the breakers had left their foam;
With the dying daylight the wild wind lulls,
And the scattered fishing-boats steer for home.

On the crag I sit, with the east before.
The sun behind me is low in the sky;
Warm is its touch on the rocky shore;
Sad the vast ocean spaces lie.

The cricket is hoarse in the faded grass;
The low bush rustles so thin and sere;
Swift overhead the small birds pass,
With cries that are lonely and sweet and clear.

The last chill asters their petals fold
And gone is the morning-glory's bell,
But close in a loving hand I hold
Long sprays of the scarlet pimpernel,

And thick at my feet are blossom and leaf,
Blossoms rich red as the robes of kings;
Hardly they 're touched by the autumn's grief;
Do they surmise what the winter brings?

I turn my eyes from the sweet, sad sky,
From the foam-white gulls and the sails that gleam,
To muse on the scattered flowers that lie
Lost as yet in a summer dream.

O darlings, nursed by the salt sea-spray!
O shapes of beauty so quaint and bright!
But for a little the frosts delay,
Soon will be ended your brief delight,

Could I but succor you, every one,
Spread wings of safety 'twixt harm and you;
Call from its southern travel the sun,
Banish the snow from the arching blue!

It may not be, and the frosts must fall,
The winter must reign in the summer's stead;
But, though you perish beyond recall,
Ever I love you, alive or dead.

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