Ethelwyn Wetherald

Mother and child

I saw a mother holding Her play-worn baby son, Her pliant arms enfolding The drooping little one. Her lips were made of sweetness, And sweet the eyes above; With infantile completeness He yielded to her love. And I who saw the heaving Of breast to dimpling cheek, Have felt, within, the weaving Of thoughts I cannot speak; Have felt myself the nestling, All strengthless, love-ensiled; Have felt myself the mother Abrood above her child.

The house of the trees

Open your doors and take me in, Spirit of the wood; Wash me clean of dust and din, Clothe me in your mood. Take me from the noisy light To the sunless peace, Where at midday standeth Night, Signing Toil's release. All your dusky twilight stores To my senses give; Take me in and lock the doors, Show me how to live. Lift your leafy roof for me, Part your yielding walls, Let me wander lingeringly Through your scented halls. Ope your doors and take me in, Spirit of the wood; Take me–make me next of kin To your leafy brood.

At waking

When I shall go to sleep and wake again At dawning in another world than this, What will atone to me for all I miss? The light melodious footsteps of the rain, The press of leaves against my window-pane, The sunset wistfulness and morning bliss, The moon's enchantment, and the twilight kiss Of winds that wander with me through the lane. Will not my soul remember evermore The earthly winter's hunger for the spring, The wet sweet cheek of April, and the rush Of roses through the summer's open door; The feelings that the scented woodlands bring At evening with the singing of the thrush?

Earth's silences

How dear to hearts by hurtful noises scarred In the stillness of the many-leavèd trees, The quiet of green hills, the million-starred Tranquillity of night, the endless seas Of silence in deep wilds, where nature broods In large, serene, uninterrupted moods. Oh, but to work as orchards work–bring forth Pink bloom, green bud, red fruit and yellow leaf, As noiselessly as gold proclaims its worth, Or as the pale blade turns to russet sheaf, Or splendid sun goes down the glowing west, Still as forgotten memories in the breast. How without panting effort, painful word, Comes the enchanting miracle of snow, Making a sleeping ocean. None have heard Its waves, its surf, its foam, its overflow; For unto every heart, all hot and wild, It seems to say, 'Oh, hush thee! hush, my child!'

The snow storm

The Great soft downy snow storm like a cloak Descends to wrap the lean world head to feet; It gives the dead another winding sheet, It buries all the roofs until the smoke Seems like a soul that from its clay has broke. It broods moon-like upon the Autumn wheat, And visits all the trees in their retreat To hood and mantle that poor shivering folk. With wintry bloom it fills the harshest grooves In jagged pine stump fences. Every sound It hushes to the footstep of a nun. Sweet Charity! that brightens where it moves Inducing darkest bits of churlish ground To give a radiant answer to the sun.


Now that the earth has hid her lovely brood Of green things in her breast safe out of sight, And all the trees have stripped them for the fight, The winter comes with wild winds singing rude, Hoarse battle songs-so furious in feud That nothing lives that has not felt their bite. They sound a trumpet in the dead of night That makes more solitary solitude. Against the forest doors how fierce they beat! Against the porch, against the school-bound boy With crimson cheek bent to his shaggy coat. The earth is pale but steadfast, hearing sweet But far-how far away!-the stream of joy Outpouring from a bluebird's tender throat.

Biography of Ethelwyn Wetherald

(26 April 1857 – 9 March 1940)
Agnes Ethelwyn Wetherald was a Canadian poet and journalist. She was born at Rockwood, Ontario, the daughter of Rev. William Wetherald, a Quaker minister. She was educated at the Friends' Boarding School in Union, New York, and at Pickering College. She sold her first poem to St. Nicholas Magazine at 17, and soon was contributing to many publications throughout Canada and the United States, including The Globe, The Week, and Rose-Belford's Canadian Magazine. She co-wrote a novel, An Algonquin Maiden (1887), with Graeme Mercer Adam, and in 1895 published her first volume of poetry.


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