Sunset Land



Sunset Land – Poem by Ella Higginson  1890- Good Housekeeping


How still it was amid those dark, old trees

That dropped fir needles on our wide-stretched tent

What long, dim, ghoulish shadows curled and bent

About our door, stirred by each spiced breeze

While night stole to us o’er the broad, blue seas

Pale, sunset skies with plumy forests blent

And soft reflections to the green earth lent

The drowsy droning of belated bees

The long, soft lushing of the flowing tide

The clinking of a brook against a stone

Made music sweet as silver bells.  Beside

Our tent, in pools with mellow monotone

Murmured the frogs.  So deep, and vast, and wide

Came on the night and we were all alone!


Like stars within some black-rimmed wave, your eyes

Sent trembling glances deep into my own

Your hammock faintly swung, One moonbeam shone

Upon your milk-white breast.  How swift time flies,

In such an hour beneath these mellow skies!

I trembled nearer and my arms were thrown

Around your throbbing throat alone, alone

We two, in gladdest passionate surprise,

To feel each heart against each other beat

And know that we were young and life was sweet!

Each swelling pulse into its comrade curled

We loved — we loved– forgetting all the world!

Unworthy, I bent o’er your hammock bed

And both our souls in one long kiss was wed.


Fair was your face as apple blossoms snow;

Cleft as the scarlet of your sweet lips’ thread

Within your cheek one rising flush of red

Forerun the coming of love’s warmer glow

A bunch of crimson poppies trembled low

Half-awed against your breast; your dark, crowned head

Was sweet with odorous flowers.  Conquered, love-led,

I let the hours slip by, I loved you so–

Dear heart I loved you so, and yet we knew

While thy pure lips were wedded unto mine

This hour to be our last.  Solemnly you

Soft, trembling arms, around my throat did twine

And kissed me sweet farewell.  O, love to dwell

That hour with thee hast brought foretaste of hell.


The Puget Sound still sparkles in the west

Caressing with her blue arms sunset land

Blown sails drift by the shores whereon I stand

And gleaming seagulls cleave the bright waves’ crest

But empty are my arms and sad my breast

Thy own wild poppies bloom beneath my hand

Once I bound them into a girdle-band

To grace thy slender waist in fierce unrest

I crush them now beneath my heel.  Fir trees

Drop needles all day long about my feet

The tide flows in with dreamy, rhythmic beat

Pink-hearted shells unsought lie on the beach

An empty hammock swings within my reach

But you and I, O God, are far apart!

He holds thy kisses –but I –hold thy heart!


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