Loud roars the breeze among the trees
That shield our house to-night
While here I crouch in the chimney nook,
So cosy, warm and bright.
‘Tis a pleasant place on a night like this –
But if the night were fair,
I’d restless be as waves of the sea,
In this cosy nook and chair.
I’d long to stay with my comrades gay
(There ne’er were comrades kinder)
Away I’d march for a wife to search –
But fearing yet to find her.
Now since from home I cannot roam
‘Neath these tempestuous skies:
To pass the time I’d make a rhyme,
And it may take a prize.
The wild winds yell, they seem to tell
That winter’s reign begins;
“Tis well, indeed, I’ve a fire of peat
At which to warm my shins.
Comes another blast, worse than the last,
Rain ‘gainst the window dashes;
Close to the peat advances my feet –
My toes are in the ashes.
“Sit from the fire” – ‘tis the voice of my sire –
“There’s a coal against your shoe.
While you sit poeming – God help the woman
That gets the like of you.”
“I hope He will,” says I with zeal,
“Bards are a privileged set;
An’ I prophecy that proud you’ll be
To be called my daddy yet.”
“Well, well,” he says, “the rugged braes
Of Fame’s step, lofty hills
You yet may climb by th’ dint of rhyme –
I believe in miracles.
November’s dead leaves now drift past,
November’s blast the forest bends.
But sadder than the wailing blast
Is that soul cry: “Have pity, friend!”
“Help! help!” that cry rings down the years.
“We seek not tears, nor vain regret;
We plead for prayers, but not for tears.
O help us, friends! to pay our debt!
When May assembles butterflies and bees
Round April-ornamented apple trees,
And when I gaze on orchards blossom-decked,
I pause in my lone wand’rings to reflect
On one old orchard. To another spring
Back in the past my truant thoughts take wing;
And side by side with trusty friends I stray
Through an old garden-orchard for away.
The road of life has many ups and downs;
And Fortune for us all has smiles and frowns;
Upon Life’s road we meet many a friend,
And part with many. What is round the bend,
Ahead of us, we neither see nor know,
No wonder that our thoughts incline to go
Oftener backwards as we further stray
From childhood’s garden-orchard far away.
These lovely blossoms on the apple trees,
These singing birds, these flowers, these flying bees,
This music of the mild winds passing by,
These things, all these will pass away and die,
And yet each year while I survive to see
The blossom smiling on the apple tree,
Back to the past, back to the past I’ll stray
To one old garden-orchard far away.