Longing

O foolish wisdom sought in books!
   O aimless fret of household tasks!
O chains that bind the hand and mind—   
   A fuller life my spirit asks!

For there the grand hills, summer-crowned,
   Slope greenly downward to the seas;
One hour of rest upon their breast
   Were worth a year of days like these.

Their cool, soft green to ease the pain
   Of eyes that ache o’er printed words;
This weary noise – the city’s voice,
   Lulled in the sound of bees and birds.

For Eden’s life within me stirs,
   And scorns the shackles that I wear;
The man-life grand – pure soul, strong hand,
   The limb of steel, the heart of air!

And I could kiss, with longing wild,
   Earth’s dear brown bosom, loved so much,
A grass-blade fanned across my hand,
   Would thrill me like a lover’s touch.

The trees would talk with me; the flowers
   Their hidden meanings each make known—   
The olden lore revived once more,
   When man’s and nature’s heart were one!

And as the pardoned pair might come
   Back to the garden God first framed,
And hear Him call at even-fall,
   And answer, ‘Here am I,’ unshamed—   

So I, from out these toils, wherein
   The Eden-faith grows stained and dim,
Would walk, a child, through nature’s wild,
   And hear His voice and answer Him.


Source: She Wields a Pen: American Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century (University of Iowa Press, 1997)
More Poems by Ina Coolbrith