He wiled me through the furzy croft;
He wiled me down the sandy lane.
He told his boy’s love, soft and oft,
Until I told him mine again.
We married, and we sailed the main;
A soldier, and a soldier’s wife.
We marched through many a burning plain;
We sighed for many a gallant life.
But his–God kept it safe from harm.
He toiled, and dared, and earned command;
And those three stripes upon his arm
Were more to me than gold or land.
Sure he would win some great renown:
Our lives were strong, our hearts were high.
One night the fever struck him down.
I sat, and stared, and saw him die.
I had his children–one, two, three.
One week I had them, blithe and sound.
The next–beneath this mango-tree,
By him in barrack burying-ground.
I sit beneath the mango-shade;
I live my five years’ life all o’er–
Round yonder stems his children played;
He mounted guard at yonder door.
‘Tis I, not they, am gone and dead.
They live; they know; they feel; they see.
Their spirits light the golden shade
Beneath the giant mango-tree.
All things, save I, are full of life:
The minas, pluming velvet breasts;
The monkeys, in their foolish strife;
The swooping hawks, the swinging nests;
The lizards basking on the soil,
The butterflies who sun their wings;
The bees about their household toil,
They live, they love, the blissful things.
Each tender purple mango-shoot,
That folds and droops so bashful down;
It lives; it sucks some hidden root;
It rears at last a broad green crown.
It blossoms; and the children cry–
‘Watch when the mango-apples fall.’
It lives: but rootless, fruitless, I–
I breathe and dream;–and that is all.
Thus am I dead: yet cannot die:
But still within my foolish brain
There hangs a pale blue evening sky;
A furzy croft; a sandy lane.