Cardinal Flower

by Dora Read Goodale (1866 - 1915)

from All Round the Year, Verses from Sky Farm


Slowly the black water gathers in
To itself a hundred folded lines;
Thro’ the yellow willows at its brim
Pale and cold the waning sunlight shines,
As the Autumn color waxes dim.

To the westward burns the smoldering day,
Still and solemn, in the sunset sky;
In the purple hollows far away
Shadowy veils of early evening lie,
And the distant mountain-tops are gray.

In the stagnant pool, stirred by a breath,
All the shifting light and color lies,
In its shallows, dim with brooding death,
All the sweeping splendors of the skies
Glass themselves, and scatter light beneath.

Whence is yonder flower so strangely bright?
Would the sunset’s last reflected shine
Flame so red from that dead flush of light?
Dark with passion is its lifted line,
Hop, alive, amid the falling night.

Still it burns intenser as I gaze,
Till its heart-fire quickens with my own,
And when night shuts in dusky ways
Red and strange shine out the lights of home,
Where my flower its parting sign delays.