There is a Reaper whose name is Death,
And, with his sickle keen,
He reaps the bearded grain at a breath,
And the flowers that grow between.
``Shall I have nought that is fair?'' saith he;
``Have nought but the bearded grain?
Though the breath of these flowers is sweet to me,
I will give them all back again.''
He gazed at the flowers with tearful eyes,
He kissed their drooping leaves;
It was for the Lord of Paradise
He bound them in his sheaves.
``My Lord has need of these flowerets gay,''
The Reaper said, and smiled;
``Dear tokens of the earth are they,
Where he was once a child.
``They shall all bloom in fields of light,
Transplanted by my care,
And saints, upon their garments white,
These sacred blossoms wear.''
And the mother gave, in tears and pain,
The flowers she most did love;
She knew she should find them all again
In the fields of light above.
O, not in cruelty, not in wrath,
The Reaper came that day;
'Twas an angel visited the green earth,
And took the flowers away.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow-
Photograph by Jan Boults, copyright 2007