The adolescent night, breath of the town,
Porchswings and whispers, maple leaves unseen
Deploying moonlight quieter than a man dead
After the locust’s song. These homes were mine
And are not now forever, these on the steps
Children I think removed to many places,
Lost among hushed years, and so strangely known.
This business is well ended. If in the dark
The firefly made his gleam and sank therefrom,
Yet someone’s hand would have him, the wet grass
Bed him no more. From corners of the lawn
The dusk-white dresses flutter and are past.
Before our bed time there were things to say,
Remembering tree-bark, crickets, and the first star…
After, and as the sullenness of time
Went on from summer, here in a land alien
Made I my perfect fears and flower of thought:
Sleep being no longer swift in the arms of pain,
Revisitations are convenient with a cough,
And there is something I would say again
If I had not forever, if there were time.
~ Robert Fitzgerald
“Summer Afternoon” by Winslow Homer, 1872
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