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Helen Gray Cone (Хелен Грей Коун)

At the Parting of the Ways


  Comrade Youth! Sit down with me
  Underneath the summer tree,
  Cool green dome whose shade is sweet,
  Where the sunny roadways meet,
  See, the ancient finger-post,
  Silver-bleached with rain and shine,
  Warns us like a noon-day ghost:
  That way's yours, and this way's mine!
  I would hold you with delays
  Here at parting of the ways.

  Hold you! I as well might look
  To detain the racing brook
  With regrets and grievance tender,
  As my comrade swift and slender,
  Shy, capricious, all of spring!
  Catch the wind with blossoms laden,
  Catch the wild bird on the wing,
  Catch the heart of boy or maiden!

  Yet I'll hold your image fast,
  As this hour I saw you last,—
  As with staff in hand you sat,
  Soft curls putting forth defiant
  From the tilted Mercury's hat,
  Wreathen with the wilding grace
  Of the fresh-leaved vine and pliant,
  Stealing down to see your face.
  Eyes of pleasance, lips of laughter,
  I shall hoard you long hereafter;
  Very dear shall be the days
  Ere the parting of the ways!

  Shall you deem them dear, in truth,
  Days when we, o'er hill and hollow,
  Trudged together, Comrade Youth?
  Ah, you dream of days to follow!
  Hand in hand we jogged along;
  I would fetch from out my scrip,
  Crust or jest or antique song,—
  Live and lovely, on your lip,
  Such poor needments as I had
  Were as yours; you made me glad.
  —Lo, the dial! No prayer stays
  Time, at parting of the ways!

  This gold memory—rings it true?
  Half for me and half for you.
  Cleave and share it. Now, good sooth,
  God be with you, Comrade Youth!

Helen Gray Cone's other poems:
  1. Thisbe
  2. When Willows Green
  3. The Trumpeter
  4. A Nest in a Lyre
  5. King Raedwald

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