Rose Terry Cooke




by Rose Terry Cooke

She stood upon the barren strand
Beside the hissing sea,
No sail came fluttering toward the land
As far as eye could see.
All heaven was high, all earth alone,
Nor men nor angels heard her moan.

No storm that wrecks the ships of man
Had cast her on the shore,
A hopeless, helpless life to scan,
To conquer or deplore.
A battle lost before the fight,
A day that shuddered into night.

A thousand times the islet's round
She paced with lagging feet,
And searched in all that sterile ground
For pool or fountain sweet;
The brilliant wave whose bubbles burst
More salt than tears, reviled her thirst.

Not any leaf of crispest green
Or fruit of life there grew,
Upon that island's lawn serene,
Beneath those skies of blue,
But high on slender branches swung
Gay poison apples o'er her hung.

So fair their shape, their hue so bright,
So deadly hunger's rage,
They showed so beauteous to the sight,
-- And she no patient sage, --
Like her who out of Eden fled,
She plucked and ate: -- behold her dead!

And ye who lift abhorring eyes,
In blame of such a deed:
Who, lost and starved 'neath alien skies
Refuse on husks to feed;
If safe ye stand in such a strait,
Close fast on her the heavenly gate!


Copyright 1888
William S. Gottsberger
11 Murray Street
New York
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