Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
1162. The Tears of the Poplars
 
By Edith Matilda Thomas
 
 
HATH not the dark stream closed above thy head,
With envy of thy light, thou shining one?
Hast thou not, murmuring, made thy dreamless bed
Where blooms the asphodel, far from all sun?
But thou—thou dost obtain oblivious ease,        5
While here we rock and moan—thy funeral trees.
 
Have we not flung our tresses on the stream?
Hath not thy friend, the snowy cygnet, grieved,
And ofttimes watched for thy returning beam,
With archëd neck—and ofttimes been deceived?        10
A thousand years, and yet a thousand more,
Hast thou been mourned upon this reedy shore.
 
How long, how long since, all the summer day,
Earth heard the heavens sound from pole to pole,
While legion clouds stood forth in bright array;        15
Yet no rain followed on the thunder’s roll!
Beneath that glittering legion shrank the seas,
And fire unseen was borne upon the breeze.
 
The ground was smouldering fire beneath our tread,
The forest dropped the leaf, and failed all grass.        20
The souls of stricken men their bodies fled,
And, sighing, flocked the wind.—We heard them pass!
The priest, that scanned the portent of the skies,
Fell reeling back, with pierced and shrivelled eyes.
 
But ah, he saw not what our sight discerned—        25
The flying chariot-wheel, with fervid tire—
The steeds that unaccustomed guidance spurned
With fateful hoof and breath that scattered fire—
He saw not thee and thine unmeasured fall,
And Jove, unheeding, in his cloudy hall!        30
 
Dragged headlong by those swift immortal horse,
Up to our sire went thy vain cry for aid;
Neither he cast a bound, to check their course,
Nor on the golden rein a hand he laid.
Brother beloved, what foe could so deceive,        35
Bidding thee dare what scarcely gods achieve?
 
Alas! that we remember—and forget!
For, if we sometimes gain a brief repose,
Soon are we roused, by sudden fear beset;
Then, through our silver boughs a shudder goes,        40
Our heads we lift, we search the azure gloom,
As though thou still wert falling to thy doom!
 
Upon the earth no loves were ever ours;
Man greets us from afar, but comes not near,
Nor even round our dark unwindowed towers        45
Throng the light birds—so much our grief they fear!
We sigh—we tremble—’t is not to the breeze—
Brother beloved, we are thy funeral trees!
 

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