Within and Without

THE tide flows up, the tide flows down:
The water brims the creek, and falls;
A cottage, weather-stained and brown,
Lifts at the brink its time-worn walls.
Beneath the lowly window-sill
A little bank of blossoms gay
The wandering airs with fragrance fill,
Sweeten the night and charm the day.
The tide flows up, the tide flows down :
From the low window’s humble square
A woman in a faded gown,
With care-dimmed eyes and tangled hair,
Looks out across the smiling space
Where golden stars and suns unfold;
Blue larkspur, the pied pansy’s face,
Nasturtium bells of scarlet bold, —
She sees them not, nor cares, nor knows.
A man’s rough figure, noon and night
And morning, o’er the threshold goes, —
No sense has he for their delight.
The tide flows up, the tide flows down:
In that dull house a little maid
Lives lonely, under Fortune’s frown,
A life unchildlike and afraid.
To her that tiny garden plot
Means heaven. She comes at eve to stand
’Mid mallow and forget-me-not
And marigolds on either hand.
They look at her with brilliant eyes,
Their scent is greeting and caress;
They spread their rich and glowing dyes
Her saddened soul to cheer and bless.
The tide flows up, the tide flows down :
Within, how base the life, and poor!
Without, what wealth and beauty crown
The humble flowers beside the door !
Celia Thaxter.