by: John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

      HE pines were dark on Ramoth hill,
      Their song was soft and low;
      The blossoms in the sweet May wind
      Were falling like the snow.
      The blossoms drifted at our feet,
      The orchard birds sang clear;
      The sweetest and the saddest day
      It seemed of all the year.
      For, more to me than birds or flowers,
      My playmate left her home,
      And took with her the laughing spring,
      The music and the bloom.
      She kissed the lips of kith and kin,
      She laid her hand in mine;
      What more could ask the bashful boy
      Who fed her father's kine?
      She left us in the bloom of May:
      The constant years told o'er
      Their seasons with as sweet May morns,
      But she came back no more.
      I walk, with noiseless feet, the round
      Of uneventful years;
      Still o'er and o'er I sow the spring
      And reap the autumn ears.
      She lives where all the golden year
      Her summer roses blow;
      The dusky children of the sun
      Before her come and go.
      There haply with her jewelled hands
      She smooths her silken gown,--
      No more the homespun lap wherein
      I shook the walnuts down.
      The wild grapes wait us by the brook,
      The brown nuts on the hill,
      And still the May-day flowers make sweet
      The woods of Follymill.
      The lilies blossom in the pond,
      The bird builds in the tree,
      The dark pines sing on Ramoth hill
      The slow song of the sea.
      I wonder if she thinks of them,
      And how the old time seems,
      If ever the pines of Ramoth wood
      Are sounding in her dreams.
      I see her face, I hear her voice,
      Does she remember mine?
      And what to her is now the boy
      Who fed her father's kine?
      What cares she that the orioles build
      For other eyes than ours,--
      That other hands with nuts are filled,
      And other laps with flowers?
      O playmate in the golden time!
      Our mossy seat is green,
      Its fringing violets blossom yet,
      The old trees o'er it lean.
      The winds so sweet with birch and fern
      A sweeter memory blow,
      And there in spring the veeries sing
      A song of long ago.
      And still the pines of Ramoth wood
      Are moaning like the sea,--
      The moaning of the sea of change
      Between myself and thee!

"My Playmate" is reprinted from The Little Book of American Poets: 1787-1900. Ed. Jessie B. Rittenhouse. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1915.




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