A ragged beggar sunning;
Around it still the sumachs grow,
And blackberry-vines are running.
Deep scarred by raps official;
The warping floor, the battered seats,
Its door’s worn sill, betraying
The feet that, creeping slow to school,
Went storming out to playing!
Shone over it at setting;
Lit up its western window-panes,
And low eaves’ icy fretting.
And brown eyes full of grieving,
Of one who still her steps rely
When all the school are leaving.
Her childish favor singled;
His cap pulled low upon a face
Where pride and shame were mingled.
To right and left he lingered; —
As restlessly her tiny hands
The blue-checked apron fingered.
The soft hand’s light caressing,
And hear the tremble of her voice,
As if a fault confessing.
I hat to go above you,
Because,” —the brown eyes lower fell. —
“Because, you see, I love you!”
That sweet child-face is showing.
Dear girl! the grasses on her grave
Have forty years been growing!
How few who pass above him
Lament their triumph and his loss,
Like here, — because they love him.
John Greenleaf Whitter, from The Best Loved Poems of the American People.