My mouth is frozen cold—
my skin is shivering,
but the sky dances gold,
commanding me to sing:
Weep, suffer love, know it,
and don’t drop the frail ball,
you tormented poet,
that I’ve lightly let fall.
So this is the real tie
to heaven’s secret realms,
in this heavy, dark sky—
the sadness overwhelms.
What if, above that shop,
this star shining so hard
were suddenly to drop
through my heart like a shard?
translated by Holly Woodward
My great-grandmother, Elizabeth Woodward, wrote poems as a girl growing up in Brooklyn. Her ten children left her with little time to write, but some of her childhood verse was published in the New York papers. This poem in memory of her mother she kept to herself. Into this page of her journal she slipped a tiny wild daisy from her mother’s grave in Green-Wood Cemetery.
To a Daisy from my Mother’s Grave, 1852
When hills and meads were brown and bare
And wintry winds swept chilly by
This little daisy blossomed fair
Beneath a cold and foreign sky.
Sweet little flower, it raised its head
Within the Greenwood’s hallowed ground
And smiled above the lovely dead
The last which graced that quiet mound.
In youth the hand of her now cold
Beneath the spot that marked thy smile,
Oft plucked the daisy from the mould
In her and thine own native isle.
Yet like thee from the English shore
Transplanted neath the western sky
She passed away life’s transient hour
Midst peaceful scenes at last to die.
Tis thine to boast no colors gay
Tis thine no stately green to wear
So would affection stoop to pay
A tribute to the one so dear.
I doubly prize the little gem
Since blooming on my mother’s grave
My father snipped thy tender stem
To me this simple flower gave.
Sweet daisy we would learn from thee
To scorn no power that we may hold
The humblest offering that may be
Is oft more dear than gems or gold.