The Lone One.

Woman sits with her head cradled in her left hand over some fabric. There is an open book on her lap. 1/2 page.
I may not share the winter hearth1
When others gather round ;2
Their voices echo up to me—3
A pleasant laughing sound !4
But I laugh too upon my bed—5
Catching the tone of mirth,6
And feel among a multitude,7
While lonely on the earth.8
Ay, life is troublous everywhere,9
And all may taste its bliss,10
Tears may be seen in crowds, and smiles11
In solitudes like this !12
We live not on the world around—13
Though it be glad and fair,14
Though God hath made it beautiful,15
And given each a share :16
The eye may rove at liberty17
Or, bounded in its flight,18
Pass round and round a single room19
From morning until night :20
The foot may tread, with healthful glee,21
Green hills and forest deeps,22
Or, fetter’d, lie at weary rest23
Where sickness vigil keeps ;—24
But fancy forms a universe,25
Alike, in every soul,26
And there we live a life beyond ;27
Destruction or control !28
How many days pass thus with me,29
When my unresting eye30
Takes journeys on the paper’d wall,31
For want of earth and sky,32
Till up its sapless stalks I twine33
A life-green of my own,34
And paint such strange companions there,35
I scarcely feel alone !36
The fringes of my bed, to me37
Are monks and nuns of old,38
I catch the subject of a dream39
In every curtain’s fold ;40
The twilight of the summer eve41
Hath its pale airy sprite,42
And every winter fire displays43
Its magic world of light ;44
But more enchanting far than these—45
Traced on the heart within46
Are the fair scenes that live, untouch’d47
By sorrow, death, or sin !48
Scenes such as earth hath many a one ;49
But lacking here the woe50
Oppressing with their sweetness, till51
The brimm’d eyes overflow ;52
Rich in their fancied loveliness,53
And dense in their deep calm,54
Steeping the soul in ecstasy,55
And loading it with balm !56
The story of a lifetime, that,57
If scatter’d over years,58
Would in its slow unfolding show59
A thousand breaks and tears ;60
But pictured on a single eve,61
And gazed on at a glance,62
Hath sun-spots passing earth’s, and shades63
Whose very glooms entrance !64
Like as the painted landscape with65
A depth of richness glows,66
Which not the very scenes themselves67
Whence it was sketch’d disclose :68
The ivied church may be the same,69
The upland, and the dell ;70
The group of trees, the village stile,71
The artist’s skill may tell ;72
But there are dreary stubble-fields73
And briary wastes between,74
And never one, to mar the view,75
Is in the picture seen !76
Or, if begirt with life they he,77
The contrast is so fair78
When dark and bright at once are seen,79
That they look dovely there !80
Oh, many such sweet visions float81
Across my pillow’d brain,82
Often I cast them to the earth,83
Then rear their spoils again !84
I would not have it always so—85
The spirit could not live ;86
A lulling draught of dreary rest87
Is all such things can give :88
And then there comes the wakening—89
The weary sense of ill,90
To find one’s-self the cheated slave91
Of the ungovern’d will ;92
And tears of shamed subjection fall,93
Till reason startles up94
And claims to part, at pleasure, with95
The fascinating cup ;96
Cries earnestly for help from God,97
To think as in His sight,98
And puts the truant will in chains99
For each unbidden flight.100
Then lives the soul more safely through101
The solitary hours,102
Yielding to Him, who gave to her103
Her world-creating powers !104
Ay, share I not the winter hearth105
When others gather round,106
I hear but through my chamber-floor107
Their voices’ pleasant sound ;108
But while alone upon my bed,109
An exile from their mirth,110
Rich treasures, and a battle strife,111
Engage me on the earth !112