PHEBE, idle Phebe,
On the doorstep in the sun,
Drops the ripe-red currants
Through her fingers, one by one.
Heedless of her pleasant work,
Rebel murmurs rise and lurk
In the dimples of her mouth.
Winds come perfumed from the South ;
Musical with swarms of bees
Are the overhanging trees :
Phebe does not care
If the world is fair.
“ Phebe ! Phebe ! ”
It was but a wandering bird
That pronounced the word

Phebe, listless Phebe,
Leaves the currants on the stem,
Saying, “Since he comes not,
Labor’s lost in picking them” :
Loiters down the alleys green
Crowds of blushing pinks between,
Followed by a breeze that goes
Whispering secrets of the rose.
Does that saucy bird’s keen eye
Read her heart, as he flits by ?
Syllables that mock,
Haunt the garden-walk ;
“ Phebe ! Phebe ! ”
Lilac-thickets hid among,
His refrain is sung.

Phebe, wistful Phebe,
Leans upon the mossy wall.
Nothing stirs the stillness
Save a trickling brooklet’s fall.
Phebe’s eyes, against her will,
Seek the village on the hill.
“ If he knew he had the power
So to chill and change the hour, —
Knew the pain to me it is
His approaching step to miss, —
Knew the blank, the ache,
His neglect can make,” —
“Phebe ! Phebe !”
From a neighboring forest-roof
Echoed the reproof.
Phebe, troubled Phebe,
With the brook still murmurs on :
“ If he knew how sunshine
Pales and thins, when he is gone, —
Knew that I, who seem so cold,
Lock up tenderness untold, —
As the full midsummer glow
Hides its live roots under snow,—
In my heart’s warm silence deep,
And for him that hoard must keep
Till he brings the key,
Would he scoff at me ?” —
“ Phebe ! Phebe ! ”
The receding singer’s throat
Shaped a warning note.
“ Phebe, darling Phebe ! ”
Like a startled fawn she turns.
Over cheek and forehead
Swift the rising rose-flush burns.
“ Sweetheart, if you only knew
That my life’s one dream is — you !”
“ Hence, eavesdropper ! ” though she cried,
Gentle eyes her lips belied.
Lost in foolish lover-chat,
Picking currants they two sat,
Till a woodland bird
Sent his good-night word,
“ Phebe ! Phebe ! ”
In faint mockery, as he fled
Through the evening-red.
Lucy Larcom.