Baptism of Fire

HAPPY birds caroling love-songs, winds in the tree-tops at play,
Earth, like an Eden, rejoicing in the beautiful gladness of May !

Over the mountains a splendor of crimson and amethyst swept;
Gray mists stole up from the valley ; the dense shadows after them crept.

Down the green aisles of the orchard, pink-white with the promise of bloom.
Stood the apple-trees, wooing already the brown bees with wealth of perfume.

Then sounded the blast of a trumpet, like the cry of a soul in pain,
Crashing of thunder-bolts warring with the hosts of the scourging rain ;

Till when the raging battalions swept on with resistless sway,
Prone in the path of the tempest the pride of the orchard lay !

“ O beautiful buds close folded, that never will bloom ! ” I cried ;
“ Alas for the unfulfillment, alas for the bliss denied ! ”

But filling my arms with the branches, I carried them in, where the fire
Blazed on the glowing hearth-stone like a sacrificial pyre.
And into the flames I tossed them, when before my startled eyes,
As in miraculous vision, shone a marvel, a surprise.
In the heart of the fiery splendor the pale buds, one by one.
Opened to heat of the burning as to kiss of the summer sun !
Julia C. R. Dorr.