Once Upon the End of Day

by Shirley Starke

From Voices of the Trees: Songs for the Harp


      O, once upon the end of day

      The sunlight’s rays were red above,

      And soft among the shadows green

      I walked between the trees I love.


      And then, because my heart was full,

      I stopped a while and danced alone:

      With leaves below and leaves above

      I danced for love of things unknown.


      And towers tall and banners bright

      I saw that night, and lighted ships;

      And roses red and lilies wan

      Unfolded on my fingertips.


      Then down I lay with arms outstretched,

      Embracing earth and grass and stone:

      With leaves below and leaves above

      I lay for love of things unknown.


      And long I lay for love until

      The night grew chill and rose the breeze;

      And when I rose, the gods of old

      Stood still and bold among the trees.


      “O, leaves and lights and flaming flowers

      And sundry powers around you lie:

      So shall it be forever more

      If you to shores of ours will fly.”


      Said I, “My birth is of the earth,

      And so your mirth I share in bloom,

      But far beyond my duty lies,

      My paradise, my ever-doom.”


      Though long I search by day and night

      And grey twilight, the dream is flown:

      With leaves below and leaves above

      I sigh for love of things unknown.

      Copyright © Shirley Starke 1989




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Note: This page appears in black and white in Voices of the Trees, and includes music. The green background is only on the web page.