Pine, Rose and Fleur de Lis

by Susie Frances Harrison




Do I hold my life in my hand
              To make or to mar,
              To prize or let fall,
To round to the perfect ball,
To mould to the matchless star?


Here has rolled to my halting feet,
              From the nursery stair,
              From the children’s nest,
A rubber thing that is drest
With gaudy patchwork air.


Its colours I may not admire;
              Bright red and bright green
              Are not to my taste,
And their vulgar is not effaced
By the line of yellow between.


Still, ’tis a ball, and that’s much,
              Made fit to bound,
              Made fit to stay
On a table that is away
From the edge—or upon the ground,

Even it, a ball, will fall,
              That’s nought of a fault
              As I see, in the ball,
But in the putter—in all
That becomes a ball, to vault,

To roll and rebound, how full,
              How round it must be!
              How smooth, without trace
Of ragged and jagged rough on its face,
To rebound so swiftly, so perfectly!

It does its work well, no doubt.
              Ah! yes, but then
              It is well made,
Of its work not a whit afraid,
Though only fashioned by men.

Only fashioned by men, I think
              What do I know?
              What does it matter?
Upstairs, a more divine clatter,
Hiding, hunting, the children go.

The truant toy has been missed;
              With ecstacy—
              Mothers know how
A child with an innocent brow,
And eyes o’erbrimming with glee,

Will gather to him the ball;
              The vulgar yellow,
              The glaring green,
Will cosily, safely lie between
The pinky fists of the little fellow.

“Wanted,” the ball is. Has its place.
              The little hands
              Are quick and kind,
And the little eyes are seldom blind,
’Tis a little child who understands

That the ball has rolled and rolled and rolled
              Far from its home,
              From the nursery stair,
Far from the innocent upper air—
Even a rubber thing will roam.

What does it suffer in roaming? Not it.
              It will return
              Just as it came,
Not a whit broken, marred or lame;
The ball you see, has nothing to learn,

Nothing to spend and nothing to save,
              Nothing to give,
              Except some day
Its round and beautiful life away.
How long ere that be? Might it not live

Forever with care on a shelf somewhere,
              Where pins are not,
              And needles gay,
For ever and ever are out of the way?—
What was the other wandering thought?

Oh! here, this morning on my sleeve,
              Appeared a star,
              With a wonderful law
In its wonderful points, with not a flaw
In its beauty although it fell so far.

It breathed for a moment, then died.
              While I stood at the door
              And counted its rays
It died at the strength of my gaze.
From a snow-star, so much and no more!

Perfect the ball and the star,
              Each in its day,
              Each in its end.
I shall never mend! I shall never mend!
I, imperfect, will go away.

Do I hold my life in my hand,
              To make or to mar,
              To prize or let fall,
To round to the matchless ball,
To mould to the radiant star?



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