Bereft

Arthur Henry Adams 1872 (Lawrence) – 1936 (Sydney, New South Wales)

FOR nine drear nights my darling has been dead;
 And ah, dear God! I cannot dream of her!
  Now I shall see her always lying white—
 A frozen flower beneath a snow of flowers,
 Drowned in a sea of fragrance. I shall hear
 In every silence of the coming years
 Only the muffled horror from the room
 Where I had left my little child asleep—
 And found a nameless thing shut in and sealed…
 And I shall never feel her breath that kissed
 Me closer than her lips did; for the thick,
 Dead perfume of slow-drooping flowers has drawn
 A veil across my memory.…She is dead;
 For nine drear nights I have not dreamed of her.
  When, all a tangle of wee clambering limbs,
 And little gusts of laughter and of tears,
 Sun-flecked and shadow-stricken every hour,
 She played about me, I could lie all night
 And dream of her. She came in wondrous ways,
 Hiding behind the dark to startle me;
 Then leaping down the vistas of the night,
 And yielding all her wistful soul to me
 With kisses tenderer and words more sweet
 Than that mad, random vehemence of love
 She lavished on me through her laughing day.
 
  And now she has been dead nine dreary nights,
 And ah, dear God! I cannot dream of her!
  Her idle hoop is hung against the wall,
 And in the dusk her cherished garments seem
 As if still warmed with all her eager life.
 And here the childish story that she wrote
 Herself, and never finished;—how one day
 With puzzled pucker of her brow she stopped
 Mid-sentence! as if God had gravely held
 A finger up to hush her, and she knew
 She was to keep His secrets;—soon, so soon,
 Perhaps He whispered low, she would know all.
  And now she has been dead nine long sad nights;
 And ah, dear God! I cannot dream of her!
  So I shall see her always lying white—
 A frozen flower beneath a snow of flowers,
 Drowned in a sea of fragrance. Now it seems
 As if the memories I hold of her
 Have shrivelled with the lilies that she loved
 And lay with on her little narrow bed.
 And now she will not murmur through my dreams
 Those faint, strange words that mean so much in dreams,
 And wither with the morn. I lie awake
 And whisper to my hopes, “To-night I'll hear
 Her petulant hands knock at my dreams' shut gate;
 
 And oh, the gladness when I let her in!
 Hush! what a patter of impatient feet
 Down the long staircase of the stars!” And then
 I sleep, and with an endless weariness
 I grope among the spaces of the dark
 For rhythm of her unresting feet, or touch
 Of her caressing fingers, or the kiss
 And whisper of her little self-willed curls;
 But never lifts her laugh across the dark,
 And never may I smooth her wilful curls,
 And when I wake again I see her yet,
 So pitifully thin and chill and straight,
 Who used to be all curves—a living flame!
  For nine drear nights my darling has been dead,
 And till I die I cannot dream of her.
  Perhaps she aches to come, shut in her grave—
 So deep to dig to hide that tender form!
 Dear God! she is too frail and weak to climb
 The horror of those walls that hedge her in;
 And when you call her to you let me be
 Close by her side to lift her little feet
 Up to the grass and sunshine of this world,
 That lacking her is now so desolate.
  So I have called and called…she does not come.
 And yet I know the way into my heart
 She has not quite forgotten…She does not come.
 And now for nine drear nights she has been dead;
 And ah, dear God! I cannot dream of her!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Arthur Henry Adams

Arthur Henry Adams was a journalist and author. He started his career in New Zealand, though he spent most of it in Australia, and for a short time lived in China and London.  more…

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    "Bereft" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 25 Nov. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/3819/bereft>.

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