I--THE MOTHER'S KISS
Love breathed a secret to her listening heart,
And said "Be silent." Though she guarded it,
And dwelt as one within a world apart,
Yet sun and star seemed by that secret lit.
And where she passed, each whispering wind ablow,
And every little blossom in the sod,
Called joyously to her, "We know, we know,
For are we not the intimates of God?"
Life grew so radiant, and so opulent,
That when her fragile body and her brain
By mortal throes of agony were rent,
She felt a curious rapture in her pain.
Then, after anguish, came the supreme bliss -
They brought the little baby, for her kiss!
There was a little pause between the dances;
Without, somewhere, a tinkling fountain played.
The dusky path was lit by ardent glances
As forth they fared, a lover and a maid.
He chose a nook, from curious eyes well hidden -
All redolent with sweet midsummer charm,
And by the great primeval instinct bidden,
He drew her in the shelter of his arm.
The words that long deep in his heart had trembled
Found sudden utterance; she at first dissembled,
Refused her lips, and half withdrew her hand,
Then murmured "Yes," and yielded, woman fashion,
Her virgin mouth to young love's kiss of passion.
III--THE BRIDAL KISS
As fleecy clouds trail back across the skies,
Showing the sweet young moon in azure space,
The lifted veil revealed her shining face -
A sudden wonder to his eager eyes.
In that familiar beauty lurked surprise:
For now the wife stood in the maiden's place -
With conscious dignity, and woman's grace,
And love's large pride grown trebly fair and wise.
The world receded, leaving them alone.
The universe was theirs, from sphere to sphere,
And life assumed new meaning, and new worth.
Love held no privilege they did not own,
And when they kissed each other without fear,
They understood why God had made the earth.
Sequestered in their calm domestic bower,
They sat together. He in manhood's prime
And she a matron in her fullest flower.
The mantel clock gave forth a warning chime.
She put her work aside; his bright cigar
Grew pale, and crumbled in an ashen heap.
The lights went out, save one remaining star
That watched beside the children in their sleep.
She hummed a little song and nestled near,
As side by side they went to their repose.
His arm about her waist, he whispered "Dear,"
And pressed his lips upon her mouth's full rose -
The sacred sweetness of their wedded life
Breathed in that kiss of husband and of wife.
The young see heaven--but to the old who wait
The final call, the hills of youth arise
More beautiful than shores of Paradise.
Beside a glowing and voracious grate
A dozing couple dream of yesterday;
The islands of a vanished past appear,
Bringing forgotten names and faces near;
While lost in mist, the present fades away.
The fragrant winds of tender memories blow
Across the gardens of the "Used-to-be!"
They smile into each other's eyes, and see
The bride and bridegroom of the long ago.
And tremulous lips, pressed close to faded cheek
Love's silent tale of deathless passion speak.
- by Ella Wheeler Wilcox