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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

New England: Portland, Me.

Fessenden’s Garden

By Elizabeth Akers Allen (1832–1911)

FROM this high window, in the twilight dim,

I look beyond a lofty garden wall,

And see well-ordered walks and borders trim,

With trellised vines and ranks of fruit-trees tall.

Along the darkling shrubbery, where most

The garden’s olden lord at evening strayed,

I half perceive a silent, stately ghost

Taking dim shape against the denser shade.

His footstep makes no rustle in the grass,

Nor shakes the tenderest blossom on its stem;

The light leaves bend aside to let him pass,—

Or is it but the wind that touches them?

A statesman, with a grave, reflective air,

Once used to walk there, in the shadows sweet;

Now the broad apple-trees, his pride and care,

Spread their pink carpet wide for alien feet.

Beneath those friendly boughs, with mind unbent,

He found sometimes a respite sweet and brief;

Threaded the wandering ways in pleased content,

And plucked a flower, or pulled a fragrant leaf;

Twined a stray tendril, lopped a straggling limb,

Or raised a spray that drooped across the walk;

Watched unscared birds that shared the shade with him,

Saw robins build, or heard the sparrows talk.

His native streets now hardly know his name;

And in the world of politics, wherein

He toiled so long and earned an honored fame,

It is almost as though he had not been.

Amid the earnest councils of the land,

His lofty form, his cold and clear-cut face,

His even voice, and wise restraining hand

Are known no more, and others take his place.

But in this haunt of quietude and rest,

Which for so many years he loved and knew,

The bird comes back to build its annual nest,

The months return, with sun and snow and dew.

Nature lives on, though king or statesman dies;

Thus mockingly these little lives of ours,

So brief, so transient, seem to emphasize

The immortality of birds and flowers!