1857–1944

Introduction

Born: Sep­tem­ber 18, 1857, Cam­ber­well, Sur­rey, Eng­land.

Died: March 6, 1944, Saf­fron Wal­den, Es­sex, Eng­land.

Biography

In 1906, Burke was liv­ing in High­gate, Lon­don.

Publications

Poem

When the Almond-Tree Shall Flourish

Open the window—for the night is hot;
Outside the winds are blowing fresh and cool;
And many a mile away I know a spot
Where moonlight sleeps on a silver pool
Whose waveless surface mirrors the clear sky,
Wherein a thousand stars like flowers have burst
In sudden vivid glory—would that I
Might see, and slake my thirst!

Here four confining walls, there boundless space
Where Nature moves in ordered freedom sweet;
Here the fierce strife for foothold, pride of place,
The crowded human lives that throng the street:
There voice of mellow waters, rustling leaves,
Or that full silence that is balm to pain—
Here party-cries, or the light laugh that grieves,
And life’s continual strain.

Day after day the heavy hours pass
In languor that is neither peace nor ease;
O! for a resting-place in the soft grass,
Beneath an arching canopy of trees:
I am afraid to sleep lest I should dream
Of sunny orchards pink and white with bloom
Of primrose paths beside a woodland stream—
And wake in this dull room!

The thought of yon great city seems to press
Upon my brain its weight of toil and sin;
I am aweary of my weariness—
Of self and of my world and all therein;
Like some caged bird that beats against the bars,
My spirit frets beneath its load of ills;
O! just to stand once more beneath the stars
Upon my native hills.

Yea, these things are a burden unto me,
The grinders cease, the music sobs and wails,
Now is the flowering of the Almond-tree,
When the doors shut and all desire fails:
Would that the tedious day were fairly done
When I shall ease me of my long complaint,
And be no more aweary when I run,
And neither fear nor faint!

Yet if I keep the nature worn of old
When ’neath my feet are set the starry skies,
’Tis not the City with the streets of gold
That I shall look for with expectant eyes;
Till my tired heart grow stronger and serene,
He will be patient with me—for I know
That He shall lead me where the fields are green,
And where still waters flow.

There is a river that all thirst can slake,
Even this burning, fevered thirst of mine;
I shall be satisfied when I awake
Not in this likeness, but in one Divine:
O Earth, that God Himself hath made most fair,
Still fairer are the Islands of His Rest—
Surely He keeps, in His Eternal care,
Unto the last His Best!

Christian Ca­ro­line An­na Burke
The Flow­er­ing of the Al­mond-Tree, 1896

Sources

Lyrics

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