Alexander Anderson

1845-1909 / Scotland

Agnes

I open again the garden door,
When the flowers live their little time,
And I stand as you used to stand before
By the rose-bush in its prime.
And I pluck one bud from the laden stem—
This is for you I say;
Then I take a leaf from the glowing gem,
And fling the rest away.
Now why should I place this single leaf
Where my other treasures lie?
And why should I keep it like the grief
That is seen in a thoughtful eye?
I keep it because it was thus you stood,
That golden afternoon,
Plucking a rose in your maiden mood,
And humming a low, sweet tune:
Humming a low, sweet tune alone,
And watching, with half a smile,
The fairy rose-leaves that were strewn
Around your feet the while.
And I stood in the shade of the garden door,
And heard you at your song,
And saw the rich leaves downward pour
As the low winds came along.
Now, when death has pluck'd your life's sweet bud,
And your footsteps are heard no more,
I think it a joy to stand where you stood,
By the rose at the garden door.
So I creep in as beneath some fear
And pluck with trembling hand
A rose from the bush you held so dear
Ere you went to the spirit land.
And I take one leaf from the bud—no more—
Then fling the rest away,
And turn again to the garden door
In the golden summer day.
And I whisper, 'The bud that I resign
Is thy clay to its own earth given;
But the leaf that I keep is that spirit of thine,
With its incense—all of Heaven.'
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