By the Roadside

DROPPED the warm rain from the brooding sky
Softly all the summer afternoon ;
Up the road I loitered carelessly,
Glad to be alive in blissful June.
Though so gray the sky, and though the mist
Swept the hills and half their beauty hid,
Though the scattering drops the broad leaves kissed,
And no ray betwixt the vapor slid, —
Yet the daisies tossed their white and gold
In the quiet fields on either side,
And the green gloom deepened in the old
Walnut-trees that flung their branches wide.
And the placid river wound away
Westward to the hills through meadows fair,
Flower-fringed and starred, while blithe and gay
Called the blackbirds through the balmy air.
Right and left I scanned the landscape round ;
Every shape, and scent, and wild bird’s call,
Every color, curve, and gentle sound,
Deep into my heart I gathered all.
Up I looked, and down upon the sod
Sprinkled thick with violets blue and bright;
Surely, “ Through his garden walketh God,”
Low I whispered, full of my delight.
Like a vision, on the path before
Came a little rosy, sun-browned maid,
Straying toward me from her cottage door;
Paused, uplooking shyly, half afraid.
Never word she spake, but, gazing so,
Slow a smile rose to her clear brown eyes,
Overflowed her face with such a glow
That I thrilled with sudden, sweet surprise.
Here was sunshine ’neath the cloudy skies !
Low I knelt to bring her face to mine,
Sweeter, brighter grew her shining eyes,
Yet she gave me neither word nor sign.
But within her look a blessing beamed;
Meek I grew before it, — was it just?
Was I worthy this pure light that streamed
Such approval, and such love and trust ?
Half the flowers I carried in my hands
Lightly in her pretty arms I laid ;
Silent, but as one who understands,
Clasped them close the rosy little maid.
Fair behind the honeysuckle spray
Shone her innocent, delightful face !
Then I rose and slowly went my way,
Left her standing, lighting all the place.
While her golden look stole after me,
Lovelier bloomed the violets where I trod,
More divine earth’s beauty seemed to be,
“Through his garden visibly walked God.”