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If Spirits Walk

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“I have heard (but not believed) the spirits of the dead
May walk again.”
Winter’s Tale

If spirits walk, Love, when the night climbs slow
The slant footpath where we were wont to go,
      Be sure that I shall take the self-same way
      To the hill-crest, and shoreward, down the gray,
Sheer, gravelled slope, where vetches straggling grow.

Look for me not when gusts of winter blow,
When at thy pane beat hands of sleet and snow;
   I would not come thy dear eyes to affray,
               If spirits walk.

But when, in June, the pines are whispering low,
And when their breath plays with thy bright hair so
      As some one's fingers once were used to play—
      That hour when birds leave song, and children pray,
Keep the old tryst, sweetheart, and thou shalt know
               If spirits walk.

Source: The Poems of Sophie Jewett (1910)
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If Spirits Walk

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  • Born in Moravia, New York, poet Sophie Jewett was the daughter of a country doctor. Her childhood was marked by loss and displacement. When she was seven years old, her mother died, and Jewett was summoned from sleep to observe her passing; her father died two years later. After his death, Jewett and her three siblings moved to Buffalo to live with their uncle and grandmother, both of whom died during Jewett’s adolescence.

    Jewett then turned to her minister, the Reverend Wolcott Calkins, and his daughter Mary Whiton Calkins for support. The Calkinses encouraged Jewett’s literary interest, and Mary later co-edited Jewett’s final, posthumous collection of poetry.
    Jewett’s early writing was enhanced by her experiences traveling to England and Italy. Her poetry often finds its shape in the sonnet form, and frequently takes as its subject intimacy between women. Jewett’s poetry collections include The Pilgrim, and Other Poems (1896) and God’s Troubadour...

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