To Elizabeth Ward Perkins

by Amy Lowell
Dear Bessie, would my tired rhyme
 Had force to rise from apathy,
 And shaking off its lethargy
Ring word-tones like a Christmas chime.
But in my soul's high belfry, chill
 The bitter wind of doubt has blown,
 The summer swallows all have flown,
The bells are frost-bound, mute and still.
Upon the crumbling boards the snow
 Has drifted deep, the clappers hang
 Prismed with icicles, their clang
Unheard since ages long ago.
The rope I pull is stiff and cold,
 My straining ears detect no sound
 Except a sigh, as round and round
The wind rocks through the timbers old.
Below, I know the church is bright
 With haloed tapers, warm with prayer;
 But here I only feel the air
Of icy centuries of night.
Beneath my feet the snow is lit
 And gemmed with colours, red, and blue,
 Topaz, and green, where light falls through
The saints that in the windows sit.
Here darkness seems a spectred thing,
 Voiceless and haunting, while the stars
 Mock with a light of long dead years
The ache of present suffering.
Silent and winter-killed I stand,
 No carol hymns my debt to you;
 But take this frozen thought in lieu,
And thaw its music in your hand.