Candles That Burn
Aline Kilmer

  1. Ambition
  2. The Mother's Helper
  3. A Didactic Poem to Deborah
  4. An Autumn Walk with Deborah
  5. Experience
  6. Candles That Burn
  7. Prevision
  8. Dorothy's Garden
  9. Justice
  10. For Two Birthdays
  11. To Rose Away
  12. For a Proud Baby
  13. "You Are More Blessed"
  14. To a Sick Child
  15. "A Wind in the Night"
  16. "When You Have Been Dead"
  17. To Rose
  18. Olim Meminisse Juvabit
  19. Haunted
  20. The Windy Night
  21. I Shall Not Be Afraid
  22. In Spring
  23. High Heart
  24. Christmas
  25. The Garden Child
  26. The Lost Forest
  27. Cow Song
  28. Remembrance
  29. Flower Dancers
  30. Morning-Glories
  31. Hill-Country
  32. Compensation
  33. In a Hall Bedroom
  34. To a Young Aviator
  35. The Masquerader
  36. The Morning Shadow
  37. After Grieving
  38. Spring Sorrow
  39. Age Invading
  40. Portrait of an Old Lady
  41. To Two Little Sisters of the Poor
  42. Mountains
  43. To a Lady Complimenting
  44. Green Gravel
  45. The White Moth
  46. Honey-Witch
  47. To a Silly Poor Soul
  48. Moonlight
  49. My Mirror

Poets' Corner Scripting
© 2010 S.L. Spanoudis and
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Oil Painting by Renoir
Candles That Burn

Aline Kilmer


To Joyce

Edited for the Web
by Steve Spanoudis

. Ambition

    KENTON and Deborah, Michael and Rose,
    These are fine children as all the world knows;
    But into my arms in my dreams every night
    Come Peter and Christopher, Faith and Delight.

    Kenton is tropical, Rose is pure white,
    Deborah shines like a star in the night;
    Michael's round eyes are as blue as the sea,
    And nothing on earth could be dearer to me.

    But where is the baby with Faith can compare?
    What is the colour of Peterkin's hair?
    Who can make Christopher clear to my sight,
    Or show me the eyes of my daughter Delight?

    When people inquire I always just state:
    "I have four nice children and hope to have eight.
    Though the first four are pretty and certain to please,
    Who knows but the rest may be nicer than these?"

    Aline Kilmer

. The Mother's Helper

    I LOVE all my children far more than I thought to;
    They do everything just the way that they ought to,
    And the ones that can talk say their prayers as they're taught to;
    But still every night as I sit at my sewing,
    My mind turned adrift on its own pleasures going,
    Underneath my wild thoughts is a steady prayer flowing:
    St. Brigid, please keep
    My babies asleep!

    St. Rita assists me when things are past bearing,
    St. Christopher helps me when forth I am faring,
    But the care of my children St. Brigid is sharing.
    They are wilful and happy and dear beyond measure,
    No riches could equal the worth of my treasure;
    But in spite of my love and my pride and my pleasure,
    St. Brigid, please keep
    My babies asleep!

    Aline Kilmer

. A Didactic Poem to Deborah

    DEBORAH dear, when you are old,
       Tired and grey, with pallid brow,
    Where will you put the blue and gold
       And radiant rose that tint you now?

    You are so fair, so gay, so sweet!
       How can I bear to watch you grow,
    Knowing that soon those twinkling feet
       Must go the ways all children go?

    Deborah, put the blue and gold
       And rosy beauty that is you,
    Into your heart that it may hold
       Beauty to last your whole life through.

    Then, though the world be tossed and torn,
       Greyer than ashes and as sad,
    Though fate may make your way forlorn,
       Deborah dear, you shall be glad.

    Aline Kilmer

. An Autumn Walk with Deborah

    OVER the limp and sallow grasses,
       Deborah, will you walk with me?
    You may gather gentians in purple masses
       And honeypods from the locust tree.

    Brown leaves cover the partridge berry,
       Holding it safe for your eager hand.
    Barberry bright and cornelian cherry
       Offering scarlet jewels stand.

    I shall dress you up as an elf-queen, twining
       Bittersweet wreaths for your golden head;
    Your leaf-brown cloak with its orange lining
       I shall hang with garlands yellow and red.

    Let us leave this place while the sunlight lingers
       Lest the elves should covet your beauty bright.
    The gentians fall from your tired fingers
       As I carry you home through the fading light.

    Aline Kilmer

. Experience

    DEBORAH danced, when she was two,
    As buttercups and daffodils do;
    Spirited, frail, naïvely bold,
    Her hair a ruffled crest of gold,
    And whenever she spoke her voice went singing
    Like water up from a fountain springing.

    But now her step is quiet and slow;
    She walks the way primroses go;
    Her hair is yellow instead of gilt,
    Her voice is losing its lovely lilt,
    And in place of her wild, delightful ways
    A quaint precision rules her days.

    For Deborah now is three, and oh,
    She knows so much that she did not know.

    Aline Kilmer

. Candles That Burn

    CANDLES that burn for a November birthday,
       Wreathed round with asters and with goldenrod,
    As you go upward in your radiant dying
       Carry my prayer to God.

    Tell Him she is so small and so rebellious,
       Tell Him her words are music on her lips,
    Tell Him I love her in her wayward beauty
       Down to her fingertips.

    Ask Him to keep her brave and true and lovely,
       Vivid and happy, gay as she is now,
    Ask Him to let no shadow touch her beauty,
       No sorrow mar her brow.

    All the sweet saints that came for her baptising,
       Tell them I pray them to be always near.
    Ask them to keep her little feet from stumbling,
       Her gallant heart from fear.

    Candles that burn for a November birthday,
       Wreathed round with asters and with goldenrod,
    As you go upward in your radiant dying,
       Carry my prayer to God.

    Aline Kilmer

. Prevision

    I KNOW you are too dear to stay;
       You are so exquisitely sweet:
    My lonely house will thrill some day
       To echoes of your eager feet.

    I hold your words within my heart,
       So few, so infinitely dear;
    Watching your fluttering hands I start
       At the corroding touch of fear.

    A faint, unearthly music rings
       From you to Heaven--it is not far!
    A mist about your beauty clings
       Like a thin cloud before a star.

    My heart shall keep the child I knew,
       When you are really gone from me,
    And spend its life remembering you
       As shells remember the lost sea.

    Aline Kilmer

. Dorothy's Garden

    DEAR, in all your garden I have planted yellow lilies,
       Dainty yellow lilies everywhere you go:
    They are nodding slim and stately down the paths along the hedges,
       Delicately stepping they curtsey in a row.

    So when you walk among them like a lily in your slim-ness,
       With your shining head just bending graciously,
    All the little angels that look down upon your garden
       Will wonder which is lily and which is Dorothy.

    Aline Kilmer

. Justice

    MICHAEL, come in! Stop crying at the door.
    Come in and see the evil you have done.
    Here is your sister's doll with one leg gone,
    Naked and helpless on the playroom floor.
    "Poor child! poor child! now he can never stand.
    With one leg less he could not even sit!"
    She mourned, but first, with swift avenging hand,
    She smote, and I am proud of her for it.

    Michael, my sympathies are all for you.
    Your cherub mouth, your miserable eyes,
    Your grey-blue smock tear-spattered and your cries
    Shatter my heart, but what am I to do?
    He was her baby and the fear of bears
    Lay heavy on him so he could not sleep
    But in the crook of her dear arm, she swears.
    So, Michael, she was right and you must weep.

    Aline Kilmer

. For Two Birthdays

    WHENEVER I light the candles for your birthday
       My memory lights two more,
    Two ghostly candles burning with your candles
       Where hers burned once before.

    Whenever I see you at your birthday table,
       Across from you I see
    A gentle ghost that sits among us laughing,
       Laughing adorably.

    She would have been the gayest at the party,
       She always was the gladdest thing on earth:
    Now she is gayer still, for she is taken
       Into celestial mirth.

    With God and all the saints and all the angels
       She shares her birthday cake.
    So let us keep your birthday candles burning
       Joyously, for her sake.

    Aline Kilmer

. To Rose Away

    LITTLE white moon of my heart
       Since you have gone away
    I miss your cry when you wake by night,
       Your smile when you wake by day.
    I am glad when the daylight fades
       For my dreams are lovely things;
    Then in the dark you come to me
       On softly fluttering wings.

    When in the afternoon,
       Sailing the cloudless sky,
    Over the shimmering summer earth
       The pale little moon slips by,
    In the curve of her frail white bow
       Your shadowy face I see,
    And I like to think that she has you there
       Bringing you back to me.

    Aline Kilmer

. For a Proud Baby

    FLOWER of children, if you knew
       All the things you might be proud of!
    Curls and dimples are a few
       Charms you have a gracious crowd of.

    With your dark, delightful eyes
       You can break a heart or mend it.
    I know you are not really wise,
       But how well you can pretend it!

    Though your wickedness and wit
       Very clever in your sight be,
    Yet you are not, I admit,
       As conceited as you might be.

    Aline Kilmer

. "You Are More Blessed"

    YOU are more blessed than other babies are:
       Your shining eyes grow brighter every day
    With radiance that reminds me of the star
       That showed where Jesus lay.

    I like to think that you are set apart,
       A flower that never sprang from earthly loam,
    A rose of Heaven that nestles in my heart
       And dreams about its home.

    Aline Kilmer

. To a Sick Child

    I WOULD make you cookies
       But you could not eat them;
    I would bring you roses
       But you would not care.
    In your scornful beauty,
       Arrogant and patient,
    Though I'd die to please you
       You lie silent there.

    Your once wanton sister
       Creeps about on tiptoe,
    And your brother hurries
       At your slightest nod:
    Watching at your bedside
       When you sleep I tremble
    Lest before you waken
       You go back to God.

    Aline Kilmer

. A Wind in the Night

    A WIND rose in the night,
       (She had always feared it so!)
    Sorrow plucked at my heart
       And I could not help but go.

    Softly I went and stood
       By her door at the end of the hall.
    Dazed with grief I watched
       The candles flaring and tall.

    The wind was wailing aloud:
       I thought how she would have cried
    For my warm familiar arms
       And the sense of me by her side.

    The candles flickered and leapt,
       The shadows jumped on the wall.
    She lay before me small and still
       And did not care at all.

    Aline Kilmer

. When You Had Been Dead

    WHEN you had been dead a week
    I entered a shining shop,
    And there in a neat pink row
    Lay little dolls made of soap.
    And I thought, "I will take one home.
    How she will laugh to see it!
    How it will bob in her bath
    And slip through her dripping fingers!"
    Only a moment I smiled.
    Only a moment I dreamed it.
    Then my heart stood still with pain
    And I went out into the darkness.

    Aline Kilmer

. To Rose

    THEY told me the one who died would be always near me,
    That I had one child who could never grow old and sad;
    I should always have your beautiful face to cheer me,
    Your voice to make me glad.

    Oh, I have prayed till my heart was weary with praying,
    Hoping, if only in dreams, to feel you near,
    To find the truth in what they were always saying--
    That you would be with me, dear.

    Were they only trying to help me face the morrow?
    Or did they really believe the things they said?
    The only dream 1 have had of you brought but sorrow:
    I dreamed that you were not dead.

    Aline Kilmer

. Olim Meminisse Juvabit

    [from 'Forsan Et Haec Olim Meminisse Juvabit' - "Perhaps it will be a joy later to remember these things." --Steve]

    SOMETIME it may be pleasing to remember
       The curls about your brow,
    To talk about your eyes, your smile, your clearness,
       But it is anguish now.

    Often I feel that I must speak and tell them
       Of all your golden ways,
    How all the words you ever spoke were happy.
       Joy-filled your laughing days.

    But though I miss you every empty moment
       Of all my longing years,
    How can I speak about your thrilling beauty
       When all my thoughts are tears?

    Sometime it may be pleasing to remember
       The curls about your brow,
    The way you turned your head, your hands, your laughter,
       But oh, not now, not now!

    Aline Kilmer

. Haunted

    YOUR dying lips were proud and sweet
    And when you turned your head away
    Against the pillow where you lay
    My heart was broken at your feet.
    quivering lips that would be gay,
    What was it that you tried to say?
    There was a thing you would have said,
    There was a word you never spoke;
    It rose between us by your bed.
    There came a look of hurt surprise
    In your unfathomable eyes,
    And then it was that my heart broke.

    So now wherever I may turn
    1 see your wistful, following eyes;
    I see that anguished question burn
    On lips that laugh in Paradise.
    If I had been in your dear place
    You never would have failed me so!
    You always read upon my face
    Thoughts that myself could scarcely know.
    Oh, how I scorned my fettered soul
    Because it could not leap the space
    That held me from your lovely goal!

    How many a trivial little word
    And things you said to me apart,
    Strange sayings no one else has heard,
    I keep safe buried in my heart.
    But the last thing you would have said,
    I shall not know it: you are dead.

    Aline Kilmer

. The Windy Night

    YOU say you love to hear the wind
       Like brazen trumpets in the night;
    That all its martial panoply
       Wakes in your soul a wild delight.

    You like to hear upon the roof
       The silver lances of the rain,
    And see the birches' cavalry
       Go sweeping past the window-pane:

    To see tall chestnuts fall like towers,
       While all our happy house is still,
    And like a charge with bayonets
       The cedar trees rush up the hill.

    But I lie trembling in the night,
       As dark and wild as night can be,
    Remembering songs that you have made
       Till through the night you come to me.

    Aline Kilmer

. I Shall Not Be Afraid

    I SHALL not be afraid any more,
       Either by night or day;
    What would it profit me to be afraid
       With you away?

    Now I am brave. In the dark night alone
       All through the house I go,
    Locking the doors and making windows fast
       When sharp winds blow.

    For there is only sorrow in my heart;
    There is no room for fear.
    But how I wish I were afraid again,
    My dear, my dear!

    Aline Kilmer

. In Spring

    I DO not know which is worse when you are away:
    Long grey days with the lisping sound of the rain
    And then when the lilac dusk is beginning to fall
    The thought that perhaps you may never come back again;

    Or days when the world is a shimmer of blue and gold,
    Sparkling newly all in the dear spring weather,
    When with a heart that is torn apart by pain
    I walk alone in ways that we went together.

    Aline Kilmer

. High Heart

    THE sea that I watch from my window
       Is grey and white;
    I see it toss in the darkness
       All the night.
    My soul swoops down to sorrow
       As the sea-gulls dip,
    And all my love flies after
       Your lonely ship.

    Yet I am not despairing
       Though we must part,
    Nothing can be too bitter
       For my high heart.
    All in the dreary midnight,
       Watching the flying foam,
    I wait for the golden morning
       When you come home.

    Aline Kilmer

. Christmas

    "AND shall you have a Tree," they say,
    "Now one is dead and one away?"

    Oh, I shall have a Christmas Tree!
    Brighter than ever it shall be;
    Dressed out with coloured lights to make
    The room all glorious for your sake.
    And under the Tree a Child shall sleep
    Near shepherds watching their wooden sheep.
    Threads of silver and nets of gold,
    Scarlet bubbles the Tree shall hold,
    And little glass bells that tinkle clear.
    I shall trim it alone but feel you near.

    And when Christmas Day is almost done,
    When they all grow sleepy one by one,
    When Kenton's books have all been read,
    When Deborah's climbing the stairs to bed,

    I shall sit alone by the fire and see
    Ghosts of you both come close to me.
    For the dead and the absent always stay
    With the one they love on Christmas Day.

    Aline Kilmer

. The Garden Child

    ONCE in my childhood I knew an old garden,
       Shut in by grey pickets and crowded with grass;
    Old flowers grew in it, clove pinks and white lilies,
       And moss roses choked up the path with their mass.

    It lay all alone in the curve of a river
       Where little grey boats floated by on the tide;
    No dwelling was near it, no pathway led to it,
       And harsh river-grasses crept up on each side.

    Speedwell and lavender, small brown chrysanthemums,
       Mixed in great tangles where myrtle ran wild,
    And sweetly mysterious, safe though unguarded,
       Lay hid in a corner the grave of a child.

    Often I wondered if that child had played there,
       Played there as I, twining wreaths for my hair,
    When the pickets were white and the flowers were tended
       And no little grave held its mystery there.

    Who were the people who once had lived near there
       Making the wilderness bloom like a rose,
    Then left like a dream leaving nothing behind them
       But the grave of a child in a small garden-close?

    Aline Kilmer

. The Lost Forest

    I WALKED with my mother
       Where the tall trees grow,
    And she showed me tiny tables
       Where the elves sit in a row,
    And the bells that ring to call them
       When the night winds blow.

    There were small frosted toadstools,
       And little cups of wine,
    And velvet banks to rest on
       Where moss grew thick and fine,
    And a smooth brown ring for dancing
       Underneath a pine.

    But now when I go walking
       All the way is clear;
    The little bells are silent
       And the moss grown sere,
    And I know that in the moonlight
       Not an elf comes near.

    Aline Kilmer

. Cow Song

    KLANG! Kling! the cow-bells ring
    As the cows come home at night.
    Slowly they pass over the grass,
    Black and brown and white.

    Sleepy and slow each one will go
    With daisies and clover in her;
    At the milking stall she'll give them all
    As milk for Kenton's dinner.

    Aline Kilmer

. Remembrance

    I WENT back to a place I knew
       When I was very, very small;
    The same old yellow roses grew
       Against the same old wall.

    Each thing I knew was in its place;
       The well, the white stones by the road,
    The box-hedge with its cobweb lace,
       And a small spotted toad.

    And yet the place seemed changed and still;
       The house itself had shrunk, I know.
    And then my eyes began to fill
       For I had always loved it so!

    Aline Kilmer

. Flower Dancers

    TO-DAY I played with flowers,
    The yellow, yellow daisies,
    The rainbow morning-glories
    And lilies pale and grand.
    They held their dainty skirts out,
    They bowed among the grasses,
    And danced a tilting minuet
    Shadowy hand in hand.

    Aline Kilmer

. Morning-Glories

    WHEN I was small I used to play
       In an old garden bright with flowers.
    I often used to run away
       From home, and play in there for hours.

    There were two ladies who lived there,
       Dressed all in black with creamy laces.
    They had soft snowy puffs of hair
       And wrinkled, pleasant, dim old faces.

    They had such kind and pretty ways!
       They used to tell me lovely stories,
    And let me on warm sunny days
       Blow bubbles with great morning-glories.

    I wonder if they know how much
       I think of them now I am older.
    I often seem to feel the touch
       Of soft old hands upon my shoulder.

    Aline Kilmer

. Hill-Country

    BROWN hill I have left behind,
       Why do you haunt me so?
    You never were warm and kind
       And I was glad to go.

    Is it because there lies,
       Up in your cold brown breast,
    One who brought joy to my eyes
       And to my heart brought rest?

    Never again shall I see
       The flash in her answering eye.
    Never again shall the heart in me
       Stir as she passes by.

    Hill, you are proud and cold,
       Haughty and high your face;
    Is it, O hill, because you hold
       Her in your grim embrace?

    Aline Kilmer

. Compensation

    I HAVE two children: one who came
       When on my head
    Life shed its joys without a thought
       Of pain or dread;
    And one when ashes of despair
       Blackened my bread.

    My child of joy has sombre eyes
       Like Mimer's well;
    Surely the secrets of the world
       Those lips could tell;
    And wisdom on his infant soul
       Untimely fell.

    My child of woe has laughing eyes
       Like dancing light;
    A leaping flame of innocence
       Has burned her white;
    And in her face I dare not look,
       It is so bright.

    My little pagan's life should hold
       Joy without taint;
    Under the gleaming sword of pain
       His soul might faint:
    Not all the powers of Hell could daunt
       My happy saint!

    Aline Kilmer

. In a Hall bedroom

    "IN THE long border on the right
       I shall plant larkspur first," she thinks.
    "Peonies and chrysanthemums
       And then sweet-scented maiden pinks.

    "The border on the left shall hold
       Nothing but masses of white phlox.
    Forget-me-nots shall edge this one,
    The one across be edged with box.

    "The sun-dial in the centre stands.
       There morning-glories bright shall twine.
    And in the strip at either end
       Shall grow great clumps of columbine.

    "There is no garden in the world
       So beautiful as mine," she dreams.
    Rising, she walks the little space
       To where her narrow window gleams.

    She gazes through the dingy pane
       To where the street is noisy still,
    And tends with pitiable care
       A tulip on the window-sill.

    Aline Kilmer

. To a Young Aviator

    WHEN you go up to die
       Some not far distant day,
    I wonder will you try
       To tear your mask away,
          And look life in the eyes
          For once without disguise?

    Behind your mask may hide
       What treacherous, covered fires!
    What hidden, torturing pride!
       What sorrows, what desires!
          Whatever there may be
          There will be none to see.

    Yet I think when you meet
       Death coming through the skies,
    Calmly his face you'll greet,
       Coldly, without surprise;
          Then die without a moan,
          Still masked although alone.

    Aline Kilmer

. The Masquerader

    YOU were no more to me than many others,
       I never thought you beautiful or bright,
    And yet I find your memory returning
       Many a night.

    Again I hear your strange, heart-broken laughter,
       Laughter more pitiful than any tears;
    Again I see your gallant head uplifted
       Through heavy years.

    You held so tight the fragile toy you wanted,
       And when it broke you would not let it go;
    You would not let us guess your heart broke with it--
       You played you did not know.

    Now you are gone we see how well you suffered,
       We see the valiant way you struggled on.
    Can you forgive our foolish condescension,
       Now you are gone?

    Aline Kilmer

. The Morning Shadow

    I WHO have never known sorrow
    Wait for it morning and evening;
    For the footstep of grief on my threshold,
    The drip of tears on my hearthstone,
    The pitiless hours of lonely, uncomforted woe.

    Never a life without sorrow!
    But, oh, when will mine be upon me?
    When will the years seem long
    That now slip happily by me?
    The light of the skies be dimmed
    To eyes that are weary with weeping?

    Aline Kilmer

. After Grieving

    WHEN I was young I was so sad!
       I was so sad! I did not know
    Why any living thing was glad
       Vhen one must some day sorrow so.
          But now that grief has come to me
          My heart is like a bird set free.

    I always knew that it would come;
       I always felt it waiting there:
    Its shadow kept my glad voice dumb
       And crushed my gay soul with despair.
          But now that I have lived with grief
          I feel an exquisite relief.

    Athletes who know their proven strength,
       Ships that have shamed the hurricane:
    These are my brothers, and at length
       I shall come back to joy again.
          However hard my life may be
          I know it shall not conquer me.

    Aline Kilmer

. Spring Sorrow

    SORROW to see the spring!
    Why do we smile when she wakes the rose?
    For sleep is sweeter as every one knows,
    And cruel the wakening.

    Hark to a weary sound!
    It is the sap that swells like tears
    In the heart of trees that are grey with years,
    And falls like tears to the ground.

    Futile the brave display,
    The pitiful challenge of bud and leaf,
    The proud pretence that is yet so brief
    And dies, like spring, in a day.

    Sorrow to see the spring!
    Why are we glad at the birth of the rose?
    For death is better as every one knows,
    And life is a bitter thing.

    Aline Kilmer

. Age Invading

    I SHALL not run upstairs again,
       And oh, the foolish grief I feel!
    I must go carefully or pain
       Will thrust me through with its bright steel.

    I never thought that I should care
       When the first shadow fell on me.
    I planned lace caps for my white hair
       And hoped to grow old gracefully.

    I thought that when Age came I'd stand
       (If Age should really come at all!)
    And greet him with extended hand
       As my last partner at a ball.

    But now when you with easy grace
       Run up ahead or wait for me,
    Such bitterness is in my face
       I turn my head lest you should see.

    Aline Kilmer

. Portrait of an Old Lady

    EARLY one morning as I went a-walking
       I met an old lady so stately and tall,
    The red of her cheeks gave a quiver of pleasure
       Like the sight of red hollyhocks by a grey wall.

    Fragrance of lavender clung to her, telling
       Of linen piled high on immaculate shelves;
    You could fancy her tending her garden or strolling
       Among the proud roses that grow by themselves.

    When I am sorrowful, dreading the future,
       Dreaming of days when my hair shall be grey,
    It cheers me to think of that lovely old lady,
       Lavender-haunted and hollyhock-gay.

    Aline Kilmer

. Two Little Sisters of the Poor

    SWEET and humble and gladly poor,
    The Grace of God came in at my door.

    Sorrow and death were mine that day,
    But the Grace of God came in to stay;

    The Grace of God that spread its wings
    Over all sad and pitiful things.

    Sorrow turned to the touch of God,
    Death became but His welcoming nod.

    Grey-eyed, comforting, strong and brave,
    You came to ask but instead you

    Quickly you came and went, you two,
    But the Grace of God stayed after you.

    Aline Kilmer

. Mountains

    OVER the green and level land
       My sad eyes wander without hope;
    Here no rejoicing mountains stand,
       No strong and friendly slope.

    But ever when I close my eyes
       Tall mountains rear their stately forms.
    Against the sky I watch them rise,
       Serene in calm or storms.

    One in the distance rises blue,
       Haloed by morning's earliest beams.
    This was the peak my childhood knew,
       About her clung my dreams.

    Over her pallor fell the snow,
       The hot sun scorched her fertile breast,
    But in the summer lightning's glow
       I always loved her best.

    She bowed her purple head in pain
       As clouds rolled up from threatening space,
    And let a veil of silver rain
       Slip down across her weeping face.

    Aline Kilmer

. To a Lady Complementing

    WHEN I met you an hour ago
       My heart was heavy and chill;
    Now, from your word of praise,
       It is glowing still.

    Ah, vanitas vanitatum!
       What the Preacher said was true!
    I always thought my eyes were grey
       But now I know they are blue.

    Aline Kilmer

. Green Gravel

    FIELIA goes sadly and sits in the door;
    She spins or she stares at the white sanded floor.
    She has never a visitor all the day long,
    And she sings very softly this foolish old song:

    "Green Gravel, Green Gravel, your grass is so green!
    The sweetest, the sweetest that ever was seen!
    Fidelia, Fidelia, your sweetheart is dead;
    He sent you this letter to turn back your head."

    But when it is evening she wanders away
    And watches the children who come out to play.
    The children are happy, they dance in a ring,
    And over and over they merrily sing:

    "Green Gravel, Green Gravel, your grass is so green!
    The sweetest, the sweetest that ever was seen!"
    She wants to sing with them and join in their fun
    But when she comes near them away they all run.

    So late in the evening she dances alone
    And sings rather drearily round a white stone:
    "Fidelia, Fidelia, your sweetheart is dead;
    He sent you this letter to turn back your head."

    Aline Kilmer

. The White Moth

    WHERE are you flying, White Moth, to-night,
       Bearing a pale little soul away,
    A sad little soul that quivers with fright
       As the moonbeams over your frail wings play?

    Peace! I conjure you, fly no more,
       Come no nearer the beckoning flame.
    Wan little soul from an unknown shore,
       Not by chance to my light you came.

    Somewhere I have known your silver wings,
       Somewhere I have thrilled to your lonely flight.
    I am sad with the ache of forgotten things;
       Leave me alone in peace to-night.

    Aline Kilmer

. Honey-Witch

    GAY Peter rode by the grey tower
       And a face leaned laughing down,
    With hair that gleamed from a gold net
       And eyes of angel-brown.
    "She is fair," he said as he saw her,
       "Tender and good and gay.
    So pure that I am all unworthy,"
       And sighing he rode away.

    Gay Peter married a good maid
       Because of her bold blue eyes,
    But ever he dreamed of the lady
       Pure as the frosty skies.
    Everywhere he wandered
       He thought of a heart-shaped face
    Set like a star in a dark sky
       As his soul s abiding place.

    But up in her tower the lady
       Bit her honey-coloured hands and cried:
    "Shall I never get out of the grey tower?
       Shall I never get out?" she sighed.

    But no one guessed who passed there
       That her goodness all was lies,
    That she had the heart of a honey-witch
       Behind her angel eyes.

    Aline Kilmer

. To a Silly Pour Soul

       "IF EVER thou gavest meat or drink,
          Every nighte and alle;
       The fire shall never make thee shrink,
          And Christe receive thy saule."

    For meat and drink that you have given
    God will find you a place in Heaven.

    For the kind words that you have spoken
    God will not let your soul be broken.

    Bread on the waters you have cast
    And God will save your soul at last.

    Wherever you go--and the world is wide--
    My prayers shall be ever at your side.

    For I, perverse and foolish, too,
    Know the dark ways your soul went through.

    You who were given the greatest grace
    Cast it away with a tortured face.

    But if I see the good in you
    Will God in His mercy not see it, too?

    Will God not make you clean and whole
    And Christ receive your silly poor soul?

    Aline Kilmer

. Moonlight

    THE moon reached in cold hands across the sill
       And touched me as I lay sleeping;
    And in my sleep I thought of sorrowful things:
       I wakened, and I lay weeping.

    I could hear on the beach below the small waves break
       And fall on the silver shingle,
    And the sound of a footstep passing in the street
       Where lamplight and moonlight mingle.

    And I said: "All day I can turn my face to the sun
       And lead my thoughts to laughter;
    But I hope in my heart that I never shall sleep again
       Because of the pain thereafter."

    The moon's pale fingers wandered across my face
       And the arm where my hot cheek rested,
    And because of the tears in my eyes I could not see
       Where the black waves rocked moon-crested.

    Aline Kilmer

. My Mirror

    THERE is a mirror in my room
    Less like a mirror than a tomb,
    There are so many ghosts that pass
    Across the surface of the glass.

    When in the morning I arise
    With circles round my tired eyes,
    Seeking the glass to brush my hair
    My mother's mother meets me there.

    If in the middle of the day
    I happen to go by that way,
    I see a smile I used to know--
    My mother, twenty years ago.

    But when I rise by candlelight
    To feed my baby in the night,
    Then whitely in the glass I see
    My dead child's face look out at me.

    Aline Kilmer

This Poets' Corner Bookshelf Edition of Candles That Burn by Aline Kilmer was compiled from optically scanned text and published January 2010; This version is based on the 1919 edition of the book published by George H. Duran Company (New York) in the United States of America. Several of the poems were previously published in various U.S. periodicals. This meets the requirements of being in the public domain in the United States where this material is hosted.

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