Saint Emily by E. F. Frye


WHEN grass grows green in spring-time

And trees are budding gay,

When the breath of bursting lilacs

Makes sweet the air of May,

When cowslips fringe the brooksides,

And violets gem the dells,

And tremble mid the grasses

The wind-flower's slender bells,

When the fragrant lily rises

From its sheltering sheath of green,

In the city's narrow alleys

Saint Emily is seen.

A modest little maiden,

She walks secure from harm;

A basket, flower-laden,

Swings lightly on her arm,

And right and left she scatters,

Alike to bad and good,

The beauties of the garden,

The treasures of the wood.

When summer days drag slowly,

In languor, heat, and pain,

To those who lie in hospital,

Never to rise again,

Dreaming, with fevered longing,

Of shady country homes,

Where roses hang in clusters,

And honeysuckle blooms,

From cot to cot so softly

Moves dear Saint Emily;

And here a rose she proffers,

And there a bud lays she.

The close abode of sickness

She fills with fragrant bloom;

Her gentle presence passes

Like music through the room

And many a moaning sufferer

Hushes his sad complaint,

And follows with his weary eyes

The movements of this saint.

When autumn paints the woodlands

With scarlet and with gold,

When the blue gentian's lids unclose

In frosty meadows cold,

From the little troop of children

That crowd some Orphan Home

The joyous shout arises,

"Saint Emily has come!"

And round her close they gather,

An eager little band,

While from the well-stored basket

She fills each outstretched hand

With purple hillside asters,

And wondrous golden-rod,

And all the lingering flowers that love

To dress the autumn sod;

And pallid cheeks flush rosy,

And heavy eyes grow bright,

And little hearts forlorn and lone,

Stir with a deep delight.

And when the woods are naked,

And flowers no longer blow,

When the green nooks they love so well

Are buried in the snow,

Not quite unknown that presence

To children sick in bed,

Bearing bright wreaths of autumn leaves,

And strings of berries red.

A heaven-sent mission, surely,

To cheer the sick and poor

With bounties that the bounteous God

Has strewn beside our door—

To gladden little children,

To comfort dying hours,

To bear to wretched hearts and homes

The gospel of the flowers.

What marvel if glad blessings

Surround Saint Emily!

What marvel if some loving eyes

In her an angel see!—

And, too, what marvel if the thought

Is borne to me and thee,

That many a kindly boy and girl

As sweet a saint might be.