Born: September 18, 1857, Camberwell, Surrey, England.
Died: March 6, 1944, Saffron Walden, Essex, England.
In 1906, Burke was living in Highgate, London.
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
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