The Stranger on the Sill by Thomas Buchanan Read

Between broad fields of wheat and corn
Is the lowly home where I was born;
The peach-tree leans against the wall,
And the woodbine wanders over all;
There is the shaded doorway still,—
But a stranger's foot has crossed the sill.
 
There is the barn—and, as of yore,
I can smell the hay from the open door,
And see the busy swallows throng,
And hear the pewee's mournful song;
But the stranger comes—oh! painful proof—
His sheaves are piled to the heated roof.
 
There is the orchard—the very trees
Where my childhood knew long hours of ease,
And watched the shadowy moments run
Till my life imbibed more shade than sun:
The swing from the bough still sweeps the air,—
But the stranger's children are swinging there.
 
There bubbles the shady spring below,
With its bulrush brook where the hazels grow;
'Twas there I found the calamus root,
And watched the minnows poise and shoot,
And heard the robin lave his wing:—
But the stranger's bucket is at the spring.
 
Oh, ye who daily cross the sill,
Step lightly, for I love it still!
And when you crowd the old barn eaves,
Then think what countless harvest sheaves
Have passed within' that scented door
To gladden eyes that are no more.
 
Deal kindly with these orchard trees;
And when your children crowd your knees,
Their sweetest fruit they shall impart,
As if old memories stirred their heart:
To youthful sport still leave the swing,
And in sweet reverence hold the spring.