Alice Cary Famous Poems

Alice Cary was born in 1820 in Ave. She started writing poetry at the age of 17. She and her sister Phoebe Cary began writing poetry together, which continued for a long time. Alice Cary died in 1871, so her poetry is still alive in people’s hearts.

Spent And Misspent

Poet: Alice Cary

Alice Cary Famous Poems

Stay yet a little longer in the sky,
O golden color of the evening sun!
Let not the sweet day in its sweetness die,
While my day’s work is only just begun.

Counting the happy chances strewn about
Thick as the leaves, and saying which was best,
The rosy lights of morning all went out,
And it was burning, noon, and time to rest

Then leaning low upon a piece of shade.
Fringed round with violets and pansies sweet,
My heart and I, I said, will be delayed,
And plan our work while cools the sultry heat.

Deep in the hills, and out of silence vast,
A waterfall played up his silver tune;
My plans lost purpose, fell to dreams at last,
And held me late into the afternoon.

But when the idle pleasure ceased to please.
And I awoke, and not a plan was planned,
Just as a drowning man at what he sees
Catches for life, I caught the thing at hand.

And so life’s little work-day hour has all
Been spent and misspent doing what I could,
And in regrets and efforts to recall
The chance of having, being, what I would.

And so sometimes I cannot choose but cry,
Seeing my late-sown flowers are hardly set –
O darkening color of the evening sky,
Spare me the day a little longer yet!


Most Beloved

Poet: Alice Cary

Mv heart thou makest void, and full;
Thou giv’st, thou tak’st away my care;
O most beloved! most beautiful!
I miss, and find thee everywhere!

In the sweet water, as it flows;
The winds, that kiss me as they pass;
The starry shadow of the rose.
Sitting beside her on the grass;

The daffodilly, trying to bless
With better light the beauteous air;
The lily, wearing the white dress
Of sanctuary, to be more fair;

The lithe-armed, dainty-fingered brier,
That in the woods, so dim and drear,
Lights up betimes her tender fire
To soothe the homesick pioneer;

The moth, his brown sails balancing
Along the stubble, crisp and dry;
The ground-flower, with a blood-red ring
On either hand; the pewet’s cry;

The friendly robin’s gracious note;
The hills, with curious weeds o’errun;
The althea, in her crimson coat
Tricked out to please the wearied sun;

The dandelion, whose golden share
Is set before the rustic’s plough;
The hum of insects in the air;
The blooming bush; the withered bough;

The coming on of eve; the springs
Of daybreak, soft and silver bright;
The frost, that with rough, rugged wings
Blows down the cankered buds; the white,

Long drifts of winter snow; the heat
Of August falling still and wide;
Broad cornfields; one chance stalk of wheat,
Standing with bright head hung aside:

All things, my darling, all things seem
In some strange way to speak of thee;
Nothing is half so much a dream.
Nothing so much reality.


A Wonder

Poet: Alice Cary

Still alway groweth in me the great wonder,
When all the fields are blushing like the dawn,
And only one poor little flower ploughed under,
That I can see no flowers, that one being gone:
No flower of all, because of one being gone.

Aye, ever in me groweth the great wonder,
When all the hills are shining, white and red,
And only one poor little flower ploughed under.
That it were all as one if all were dead:
Aye, all as one if all the flowers were dead.

I cannot feel the beauty of the roses;
Their soft leaves seem to me but layers of dust;
Out of my opening hand each blessing closes:
Nothing is left me but my hope and trust,
Nothing but heavenly hope and heavenly trust.

I get no sweetness of the sweetest places;
My house, my friends no longer comfort me;
Strange somehow grow the old familiar faces;
For I can nothing have, not having thee;
All my possessions I possessed through thee.

Having, I have them not – strange contradiction!
Heaven needs must cast its shadow on our earth;
Yea, drown us in the waters of affliction
Breast high, to make us know our treasure’s worth,
To make us know how much our love is worth.

And while I mourn, the anguish of my story
Breaks, as the wave breaks on the hindering bar:
Thou art but hidden in the deeps of glory,
Even as the sunshine hides the lessening star,
And with true love I love thee from afar,

I know our Father must be good, not evil,
And murmur not, for faith’s sake, at my ill;
Nor at the mystery of the working cavil,
That somehow bindeth all things in his will.
And, though He slay me, makes me trust Him still.


My Creed

Poet: Alice Cary

I hold that Christian grace abounds
Where charity is seen; that when
We climb to heaven, ’tis on the rounds
Of love to men.

I hold all else, named piety,
A selfish scheme, a vain pretense;
Where centre is not, can there be

This I moreover hold, and dare
Affirm where’er my rhyme may go;
Whatever things be sweet or fair.
Love makes them so.

Whether it be the lullabies
That charm to rest the nursling bird,
Or that sweet confidence of sighs
And blushes, made without a word.

Whether the dazzling and the flush
Of softly sumptous garden bowers,
Or by some cabin door, a bush
Of ragged flowers.

‘Tis not the wide phylactery,
Nor stubborn fast, nor stated prayers.
That make us saints; we judge the tree
By what it bears.

And when a man can live apart
From works, on theologic trust,
I know the blood about his heart
Is dry as dust.


Last And Best

Poet: Alice Cary

Sometimes, when rude, cold shadows run
Across whatever light I see;
When all the work that I have done,
Or can do, seems but vanity;

I strive, nor vainly strive, to get
Some little heart’s-ease from the day
When all the weariness and fret
Shall vanish from my life away;

For I, with grandeur clothed upon.
Shall lie in state and take my rest,
And all my household, strangers grown,
Shall hold me for an honored guest.

But ere that day when all is set
In order, very still and grand.
And while my feet are lingering yet
Along this troubled border-land,

What things will be the first to fade,
And down to utter darkness sink?
The treasures that my hands have laid
Where moth and rust corrupt, I think.

And Love will be the last to wait
And light my gloom with gracious gleams;
For Love lies nearer heaven’s glad gate,
Than all imagination dreams.

Aye, when my soul its mask shall drop,
The twain to be no more at one,
Love, with its prayers, shall bear me up
Beyond the lark’s wings, and the sun.


A Penitent’s Plea

Poet: Alice Cary

Like a child that is lost
From its home in the night,
I grope through the darkness
And cry for the light;
Yea, all that is in me
Cries out for the day –
Come Jesus, my Master,
Illumine my way!

In the conflicts that pass
‘Twixt my soul and my God,
I walk as one walketh
A fire-path, unshod;
And in my despairing
Sit dumb by the way –
Come Jesus, my Master,
And heal me, I pray!

I know the fierce flames
Will not cease to uproll,
Till Thou rainest the dew
Of thy love on my soul;
And I know the dumb spirit
Will never depart,
Till Thou comest and makest
Thy house in my heart.

My thoughts lie within me
As waste as the sands;
O make them be musical
Strings in thy hands!
My sins, red as scarlet.
Wash white as a fleece –
Come Jesus, my Master,
And give me thy peace!


The Old House

Poet: Alice Cary

My little birds, with backs as brown
As sand, and throats as white as frost,
I’ve searched the summer up and down.
And think the other birds have lost
The tunes you sang, so sweet, so low.
About the old house, long ago.

My little flowers, that with your bloom
So hid the grass you grew upon,
A child’s foot scarce had any room
Between you, — are you dead and gone?
I’ve searched through fields and gardens rare
Nor found your likeness anywhere.

My little hearts, that beat so high
With love to God, and trust in men,
O, come to me, and say if I
But dream, or was I dreaming then,
What time we sat within the glow
Of the old house hearth, long ago?

My little hearts, so fond, so true,
I searched the world all far and wide,
And never found the like of you:
God grant we meet the other side
The darkness ‘twixt us now that stands,
In that new house not made with hands!


The Little House On The Hill

Poet: Alice Cary

O Memory, be sweet to me –
Take, take all else at will,
So thou but leave me safe and sound,
Without a token my heart to wound.
The little house on the hill!

Take all of best from east to west,
So thou but leave me still
The chamber, where in the starry light
I used to lie awake at night
And list to the whip-poor-will.

Take violet-bed, and rose-tree red.
And the purple flags by the mill,
The meadow gay, and the garden-ground,
But leave, O leave me safe and sound
The little house on the hill!

The daisy-lane, and the dove’s low plane,
And the cuckoo’s tender bill.
Take one and all, but leave the dreams
That turned the rafters to golden beams,
In the little house on the hill!

The gables brown, they have tumbled down,
And dry is the brook by the mill;
The sheets I used with care to keep
Have wrapt my dead for the last long sleep,
In the valley, low and still.

But, Memory, be sweet to me,
And build the walls, at will.
Of the chamber where I used to mark.
So softly rippling over the dark,
The song of the whip-poor-will!

Ah, Memory, he sweet to me!
All other fountains chill;
But leave that song so weird and wild.
Dear as its life to the heart of the child,
In the little house on the hill!


Cradle Song

Poet: Alice Cary

All the air is white with snowing,
Cold and white — cold and white;
Wide and wild the winds are blowing.
Blowing, blowing wide and wild.
Sweet little child, sweet little child,
Sleep, sleep, sleep little child:
Earth is dark, but heaven is bright –
Sleep, sleep till the morning light:
Some must watch, and some must weep,
And some, little baby, some may sleep:
So, good-night, sleep till light;
Lullaby, lullaby, and good-night!

Folded hands on the baby bosom.
Cheek and mouth rose-red, rose-sweet;
And like a bee’s wing in a blossom.
Beat, beat, beat and beat,
So the heart keeps going, going.
While the winds in the bitter snowing
Meet and cross – cross and meet –
Heaping high, with many an eddy,
Bars of stainless chalcedony
All in curves about the door.
Where shall fall no more, no more,
Longed-for steps, so light, so light.

Little one, sleep till the moon is low.
Sleep, and rock, and take your rest;
Winter clouds will snow and snow.
And the winds blow east, and the winds blow west;
Some must come, and some must go.
And the earth be dark, and the heavens be bright!
Never fear, baby dear,
Wrong things lose themselves in right;
Never fear, mother is here,
Lullaby, lullaby, and good-night.


Faded Leaves

Poet: Alice Cary

The hills are bright with maples yet;
But down the level land
The beech leaves rustle in the wind
As dry and brown as sand.

The clouds in bars of rusty red
Along the hill-tops glow.
And in the still, sharp air, the frost
Is like a dream of snow.

The berries of the brier-rose
Have lost their rounded pride;
The bitter-sweet chrysanthemums
Are drooping heavy-eyed.

The cricket grows more friendly now,
The dormouse sly and wise,
Hiding away in the disgrace
Of nature, from men’s eyes.

The pigeons in black wavering lines
Are swinging toward the sun;
And all the wide and withered fields
Proclaim the summer done.

His store of nuts and acorns now
The squirrel hastes to gain,
And sets his house in order for
The winter’s dreary reign.

‘Tis time to light the evening fire,
To read good books, to sing
The low and lovely songs that breathe
Of the eternal Spring.


Do You Hear

Poet: Alice Cary

Do you hear the wild birds calling?
Do you hear them, my heart?
Do you see the blue air falling
From their rushing wings apart?

With young mosses they are flocking,
For they hear the laughing breeze
With dewy fingers rocking
Their light cradles in the trees!


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