The White Wampum

by Emily Pauline Johnson



APRIL I, 1888


LENT gathers up her cloak of somber shading
    In her reluctant hands.
Her beauty heightens, fairest in its fading,
    As pensively she stands
Awaiting Easter’s benediction failing,
    Like silver stars at night,
Before she can obey the summons calling
    Her to her upward flight,
Awaiting Easter’s wings that she must borrow
    Ere she can hope to fly—
Those glorious wings that we shall see to-morrow
    Against the far, blue sky.
Has not the purple of her vesture’s lining
    Brought calm and rest to all?
Has her dark robe had naught of golden shining
    Been naught but pleasure’s pall?
Who knows? Perhaps when to the world returning
    In youth’s light joyousness,
We’ll wear some rarer jewels we found burning
    In Lent’s black-bordered dress. [Page 39]
So hand in hand with fitful March she lingers
    To beg the crowning grace
Of lifting with her pure and holy fingers
    The veil from April’s face.
Sweet, rosy April—laughing, sighing, waiting
    Until the gateway swings,
And she and Lent can kiss between the grating
    Of Easter’s tissue wings.
Too brief the bliss—the parting comes with sorrow.
    Goodbye dear Lent, goodbye!
We’ll watch your fading wings outlined to-morrow
    Against the far blue sky. [Page 40]