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The Old Village

The Old Village

The old village was with roses filled,
And I went wandering in the heat of the day,
And, after, o'er the sleeping leaves that chilled
The feet that walked among them where they lay.

And then along a worn-out wall, the belt
Of a wide park whence came a gentle breeze,
And there an odour of the past I smelt
In the white roses and the mighty trees.

Now uninhabited by anyone ...
They used to read here when this grass was cropped ...
And now, as though the rain had but just stopped,
The ebon-trees shine under the raw sun.

The children of old time went, linking hands,
In the park's shade, and romped around these roots ...
Playing about red plants with dangerous fruits
That had been brought from very distant lands.

Their parents, pointing out the shrubs that thrived
In the rich soil, would say to them: Take care!
There's poison here ... from India this arrived ...
And that is belladona over there.

They said besides: This tree here by the wall,
Your uncle brought it with him from Japan ...
Then it was very delicate and small,
With leaves as big as the finger-nails of a man.

They said besides: We can remember yet
The day he came back from the ends of the earth;
He galloped through the village in a sweat,
With pistols sticking in his saddle-girth.

One summer eve. The girls ran to and fro
In the park's shadow round the great tree-stems,
Round the black walnuts where white roses grow,
And laughter underneath the black yoke-elms.

They shouted: 'It is uncle!' seeing him,
And he, dismounting from his great horse stood
In his great coat and hat with the broad brim ...
His mother wept: My son ... O God is good ...

We've weathered many and many a storm, he said ...
We ran short of fresh water for a week.
And his old mother kissed him on the cheek,
Saying through tears: My son you are not dead ...

But where is now this family? Are these
But dreams of things that never have existed?
Now there are only shining leaves on trees
That might be poisoned, they are all so twisted.

Now in the great heat all is hushed and still ...
And the black walnuts' shadow is so chill ...
Now uninhabited by anyone ...
The ebon-trees shine under the raw sun.

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