Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
1283. Heliotrope
 
By Harry Thurston Peck
 
 
AMID the chapel’s chequered gloom
  She laughed with Dora and with Flora,
And chattered in the lecture-room,—
  That saucy little sophomora!
    Yet while, as in her other schools,        5
      She was a privileged transgressor,
    She never broke the simple rules
      Of one particular professor.
 
But when he spoke of varied lore,
  Paroxytones and modes potential,        10
She listened with a face that wore
  A look half fond, half reverential.
    To her that earnest voice was sweet,
      And though her love had no confessor,
    Her girlish heart lay at the feet        15
      Of that particular professor.
 
And he had learned, among his books
  That held the lore of ages olden,
To watch those ever changing looks,
  The wistful eyes, the tresses golden,        20
    That stirred his pulse with passion’s pain
      And thrilled his soul with soft desire,
    And bade fond youth return again
      Crowned with his coronet of fire.
 
Her sunny smile, her winsome ways,        25
  Were more to him than all his knowledge,
And she preferred his words of praise
  To all the honors of the college.
    Yet “What am foolish I to him?”
      She whispered to her heart’s confessor.        30
    “She thinks me old and gray and grim,”
      In silence pondered the professor.
 
Yet once when Christmas bells were rung
  Above ten thousand solemn churches,
And swelling anthems grandly sung        35
  Pealed through the dim cathedral arches,—
    Ere home returning, filled with hope,
      Softly she stole by gate and gable,
    And a sweet spray of heliotrope
      Left on his littered study-table.        40
 
Nor came she more from day to day
  Like sunshine through the shadows rifting:
Above her grave, far, far away,
  The ever silent snows were drifting;
    And those who mourned her winsome face        45
      Found in its stead a swift successor
    And loved another in her place—
      All, save the silent old professor.
 
But, in the tender twilight gray,
  Shut from the sight of carping critic,        50
His lonely thoughts would often stray
  From Vedic verse and tongues Semitic,
    Bidding the ghost of vanished hope
      Mock with its past the sad possessor
    Of the dead spray of heliotrope        55
      That once she gave the old professor.
 

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