Bee-Bitten in the orchard hung
The peach; or, fallen in the weeds,
Lay rotting, where still sucked and sung
The gray bee, boring to its seed's
Pink pulp and honey blackly stung.
The orchard-path, which led around
The garden, with its heat one twinge
Of dinning locusts, picket-bound
And ragged, brought me where one hinge
Held up the gate that scraped the ground.
All seemed the same: the martin-box
Sun-warped with pigmy balconies
Still stood, with all its twittering flocks,
Perched on its pole above the peas
And silvery-seeded onion-stocks.
The clove-pink and the rose; the clump
Of coppery sunflowers, with the heat
Sick to the heart: the garden stump,
Red with geranium-pots, arid sweet
With moss and ferns, this side the pump.
I rested, with one hesitant hand
Upon the gate. The lonesome day,
Droning with insects, made the land
One dry stagnation. Soaked with hay
And scents of weeds the hot wind fanned.
I breathed the sultry scents, my eyes
Parched as my lips. And yet I felt
My limbs were ice. As one who flies
To some wild woe. How sleepy smelt
The hay-sweet heat that soaked the skies!
Noon nodded; dreamier, lonesomer
For one long, plaintive, forest-side
Bird-quaver. And I knew me near
Some heartbreak anguish.. . She had died.
I felt it, and no need to hear!
I passed the quince and pear-tree; where,
All up the porch, a grape-vine trails
How strange that fruit, whatever air
Or earth it grows in, never fails
To find its native flavour there!
And she was as a flower, too,
That grows its proper bloom and scent
No matter what the soil: she, who,
Born better than her place, still lent
Grace to the lowliness she knew.. .
They met me at the porch, and were
Sad-eyed with weeping. Then the room
Shut out the country's heat and purr,
And left light stricken into gloom
So love and I might look on her.