Last night the heavy moaning wind
Bore unto me
Warning from Him who hath designed
That change shall be.

Beneath these mighty hills I lay,

At rest at last,
And thinking on the golden day
But now gone past;

When softly came a faint, far cry
That night made clear,

“Thy reign is over, thou must die;
Winter is near!”

“Winter is near!” Yea, all night long
Re-echoed far
The burden of that weary song

Of hopeless war.

I prayed unto the fixèd King
Of changing Time
For longer life, till sun-rising
And morning’s prime,

And while to-day I watched the sun
Rise, slant, and die;
And now is night the stronger one.
Again the cry

Comes, louder now,―“Thy reign is o’er!”

Yes, Lord, I know;
And here I kneel on Earth’s cold floor
Once, ere I go,

And thank Thee for the long, long days
Thou gavest me,

And all the pleasant, laughing ways
I walked with Thee.

I have been happy since the first
Glad day I rose
And found the river here had burst

Through ice and snows

While I had slept. Blue places were
Amidst the gray,
Where water showed; and the water
Most quiet lay.

Upon the ice great flocks of crows
Were clamoring—
Lest my blue eyes again should close―
The eyes of Spring.

I stepped down to the frozen shore―

The snow was gone;
And lo, where ice had been before,
The river shone!

With loud, hoarse cries back flew the birds
To the tall pines;

These were the first of Spring’s faint words
And Summer’s signs.

And now I hear Thee―“Thou must die!”
Ah, might I stay,
That I might hear one robin’s cry

Bringing the day;

That I might see the new grass come
Where cattle range;
The maples bud, wild roses bloom,
Old willows change;

That I might know one night in June
Two found most fair,
And see again the great half-moon
Shine through her hair;

Or under rough, gnarled boughs might lie,

Where orchards are,
And hear some glad child’s laughing cry
Ring loud and far; [page 55]

Or even, Lord, though near my end
It surely be,

Couldst Thou not hold Time back, and send
One day to me,

One day—October’s brown and red
Cover the hills,
And all the brakes and ferns are dead,

And quiet fills

One place where many birds once sang?
Then should I go
Where heavy fir-trees overhang
Their branches so,

And slim white birches, quivering,
Loose yellow leaves,
And aspens grow, and everything
For Summer grieves.

Ah, there once more, ere day be done,

To face the west,
And see the sure and scarlet sun
Sink to its rest

Beyond the ploughed field sloping sheer
Up to the sky;

To feel the last light disappear
And silent die;

To see faint stars….Yea, Lord, I come;
I hear Thy call;
Reach me Thy hand and guide me home,

Lest I should fall….

Back, Winter! Back! . . . Yea, Lord, I, dead,
Now come to Thee;
I know Thy voice, and Thou hast said
“Let Winter be!”

More verses by Francis Joseph Sherman