You can see the gap in the old wall still,
Runs the path I took;
And the stepping-stones in the shallow brook.
There is the house, with the gate red-barred,
And the barn’s brown length, and the cattle-yard,
And the poplars tall;
And the white horns tossing above the wall.
There are the beehives ranged in the sun;
Of the brook are her poor flowers, weed-o’errun,
And down by the brink
Pansy and daffodil, rose and pink.
A year has gone, as the tortoise goes,
And the same rose blows, and the same sun glows,
Heavy and slow;
And the same brook sings of a year ago.
There ’s the same sweet clover-smell in the breeze;
Tangles his wings of fire in the trees,
And the June sun warm
Setting, as then, over Fernside farm.
I mind me how with a lover’s care
I brushed off the burrs, and smoothed my hair,
From my Sunday coat
And cooled at the brookside my brow and throat.
Since we parted, a month had passed,—
Down through the beeches I looked at last
To love, a year;
On the little red gate and the well-sweep near.
I can see it all now,—the slantwise rain
The sundown’s blaze on her window-pane,
Of light through the leaves,
The bloom of her roses under the eaves.
Just the same as a month before,—
The barn’s brown gable, the vine by the door,—
The house and the trees,
Nothing changed but the hives of bees.
Before them, under the garden wall,
Went drearily singing the chore-girl small,
Forward and back,
Draping each hive with a shred of black.
Trembling, I listened: the summer sun
For I knew she was telling the bees of one
Had the chill of snow;
Gone on the journey we all must go!
Then I said to myself, “My Mary weeps
Haply her blind old grandsire sleeps
For the dead to-day:
The fret and the pain of his age away.”
But her dog whined low; on the doorway sill,
The old man sat; and the chore-girl still
With his cane to his chin,
Sung to the bees stealing out and in.
And the song she was singing ever since
“Stay at home, pretty bees, fly not hence!
In my ear sounds on:—
Mistress Mary is dead and gone!”