Elizabeth Stoddard



Above The Tree

by Elizabeth Stoddard

Why should I tarry here, to be but one
To eke out doubt, and suffer with the rest?
Why should I labor to become a name,
And vaunt, as did Ulysses to his mates,
I am a part of all that I have met.
A wily seeker to suffice myself!
As when the oak's young leaves push off the old,
So from this tree of life man drops away,
And all the boughs are peopled quick by spring
Above the furrows of forgotten graves.
The one we thought had made the nation's creed,
Whose death would rive us like a thunderbolt,
Dropped down -- a sudden rustling in the leaves,
A knowledge of the gap, and that was all!
The robin flitting on his frozen mound
Is more than he. Whoever dies, gives up
Unfinished work, which others, tempted, claim
And carry on. I would go free, and change
Into a star above the multitude,
To shine afar, and penetrate where those
Who in the darkling boughs are prisoned close,
But when they catch my rays, will borrow light,
Believing it their own, and it will serve.


Copyright 1895
Houghton, Mifflin And Company, Boston And New York