I sit and sew—a useless task it seems, My hands grown tired, my head weighed down with dreams— The panoply of war, the martial tred of men, Grim-faced, stern-eyed, gazing beyond the ken Of lesser souls, whose eyes have not seen Death Nor learned to hold their lives but as a breath— But—I must sit and sew. I sit
I had no thought of violets of late,
The wild, shy kind that spring beneath your feet
In wistful April days, when lovers mate
And wander through the fields in raptures sweet.
The thought of violets meant florists’ shops,
And bows and pins, and perfumed papers fine;
And garish lights, and mincing little fops
And cabarets and songs, and deadening wine.
So far from sweet real things my thoughts had strayed,
I had forgot wide fields, and clear brown streams;
The perfect loveliness that God has made,—
Wild violets shy and Heaven-mounting dreams.
And now—unwittingly, you’ve made me dream
Of violets, and my soul’s forgotten gleam.
Alice Dunbar-Nelson was born on July 19, 1875. She was an activist for civil rights as well as a poet, journalist, short-story writer, and playwright. Her works include Violets and Other Tales (Monthly Review, 1895) and The Goodness of St. Rocque and Other Stories (Dodd, Mead and Company, 1899). She died on September 18, 1935.