Celia Thaxter (29 June 1835 – 25 August 1894 / Portsmouth, New Hampshire)
SOFTLY Death touched her and she passed away
Out of this glad, bright world she made more fair,
Sweet as the apple-blossoms, when in May
The orchards flush, of summer grown aware.
All that fresh delicate beauty gone from sight,
That gentle, gracious presence felt no more!
How must the house be emptied of delight,
What shadows on the threshold she passed o’er!
She loved me. Surely I was grateful, yet
I could not give her back all she gave me, —
Ever I think of it with vain regret,
Musing upon a summer by the sea;
Remembering troops of merry girls who pressed
About me, — clinging arms and tender eyes,
And love, like scent of roses. With the rest
She came to fill my heart with new surprise.
The day I left them all and sailed away,
While o’er the calm sea, ‘neath the soft gray sky
They waved farewell, she followed me, to say
Yet once again her wistful, sweet “good by.”
At the boat’s bow she drooped; her light green dress
Swept o’er the skiff in many a graceful fold,
Her glowing face, bright with a mute caress,
Crowned with her lovely hair of shadowy gold:
And tears she dropped into the crystal brine
For me, unworthy, as we slowly swung
Free of the mooring. Her last look was mine,
Seeking me still the motley crowd among.
O tender memory of the dead I hold
So precious through the fret and change of years
Were I to live till Time itself grew old,
The sad sea would be sadder for those tears.
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