WE clutch our joys as children do their flowers;
We look at them, but scarce believe them ours,
Till our hot palms have smirched their colors rare
And crushed their dewy beauty unaware.
But the wise Gardener, whose they were, comes by
At hours when we expect not, and with eye
Mournful yet sweet, compassionate though stern,
Takes them.
Then in a moment we discern
By loss, what was possession, and, half-wild
With misery, cry out like angry child:
'O cruel! thus to snatch my posy fine!'
He answers tenderly, 'Not thine, but mine,'
And points to those stained fingers which do prove
Our fatal cherishing, our dangerous love;
At which we, chidden, a pale silence keep;
Yet evermore must weep, and weep, and weep.
So on through gloomy ways and thorny brakes,
Quiet and slow, our shrinking feet he takes
Let by the soilèd hand, which, laved in tears,
More and more clean beneath his sight appears.
At length the heavy eyes with patience shine--
'I am content. Thou took'st but what was thine.'

And then he us his beauteous garden shows,
Where bountiful the Rose of Sharon grows:'
Where in the breezes opening spice-buds swell,
And the pomegranates yield a pleasant smell:
While to and fro peace-sandalled angels move
In the pure air that they--not we--call Love:
An air so rare and fine, our grosser breath
Cannot inhale till purified by death.
And thus we, struck with longing joy, adore,
And, satisfied, wait mute without the door,
Until the gracious Gardener maketh sign,
'Enter in peace. All this is mine--and thine.'

More verses by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik