Dry leaves upon the wall,
Which flap like rustling wings and seek escape,
A single frosted cluster on the grape
Still hangs--and that is all.
It hangs forgotten quite,--
Forgotten in the purple vintage-day,
Left for the sharp and cruel frosts to slay,
The daggers of the night.
It knew the thrill of spring;
It had its blossom-time, its perfumed noons;
Its pale-green spheres were rounded to soft runes
Of summer's whispering.
Through balmy morns of May;
Through fragrances of June and bright July,
And August, hot and still, it hung on high
And purpled day by day.
Of fair and mantling shapes,
No braver, fairer cluster on the tree;
And what then is this thing has come to thee
Among the other grapes,
Thou lonely tenant of the leafless vine,
Granted the right to grow thy mates beside,
To ripen thy sweet juices, but denied
Thy place among the wine?
Ah! we are dull and blind.
The riddle is too hard for us to guess
The why of joy or of unhappiness,
Chosen or left behind.
But everywhere a host
Of lonely lives shall read their type in thine:
Grapes which may never swell the tale of wine,
Left out to meet the frost.