The Returner

OEARTH, earth, earth, upon thy breast,
Thy tender breast, I lay my head,
Here, where the leaves of gold and red,
All summer ripening in the sun,
Their day accomplished, one by one,
With but the tremor of a sigh
Unclasp their hands to flutter down,
Upon thy faithful heart to die ;
’Mid trailing vines and grasses brown,
O earth, dear mother of us all,
Here, where the noiseless shadows fall,
Grant thou the weary wanderer rest.
The quails’ far piping, loud and clear,
The blue jays’ wrangle in their tree,
The cricket chorus, thin and high,
The soft, warm wind’s low lullaby,
Shall mix and murmur in my ear;
The winged blossom of the air
In crooked flight shall waver near;
The timid rabbit, stealing by,
With wide wild eyes will look’at me;
The mantis clasp his hands in prayer.
Thus let me lie, while o’er me go
The eastering shadows wheeling slow ;
The moon up-climbing still and white,
Her dreamy spell will o’er me throw,
And in the awful depths, a star
Will gaze upon me from afar.
Thus, musing on the wistful skies,
That brood above me tenderly,
O sleep, O sleep, seal up my eyes,
O deeper stillness, steal from me
My pulses, softly as you may;
As through shut lids the yellow light
Grows gray and dim, so let the fires
Burn low and low and die away,
Till watching, one should scarcely say
When the last flickering tongue expires,
And sleep has yielded room to thee.
Thus, thus, O mother of us all,
From whom we are, in whom we cease,
Receive again the life you gave,
And here, where braided shadows fall,
Let the Returner find a grave,
And in thy breast, eternal peace.
H. E. Warner.