A little leaf just in the forest’s edge,
All summer long, had listened to the wooing
Of amorous brids that flew across the hedge,
Singing their blithe sweet songs for her undoing.
So many were the flattering things they told her,
The parent tree seemed quite too small to hold her.
At last one lonesome day she saw them fly
Across the fields behind the coquette summer,
They passed her with a laughing light good-bye,
When from the north, there strode a strange new comer;
Bold was his mien, as he gazed on her, crying,
‘How comes it, then, that thou art left here sighing! ‘
‘Now by my faith though art a lovely leaf-
May I not kiss that cheek so fair and tender? ‘
Her slighted heart welled full of bitter grief,
The rudeness of his words did not offend her,
She felt so sad, so desolate, so deserted,
Oh, if her lonely fate might be averted.
‘One little kiss, ‘ he sighed, ‘I ask no more-‘
His face was cold, his lips too pale for passion.
She smiled assent; and then bold Frost leaned lower,
And clasped her close, and kissed in lover’s fashion.
Her smooth cheek flushed to sudden guilty splendour,
Another kiss, and then sweet surrender.
Just for a day she was a beauteous sight,
The world looked on to pity and admire
This modest little leaf, that in a night
Had seemed to set the forest all on fire.
And then – this victim of a broken trust,
A withered thing, was trodden in the dust.
(Ella Wheeler Wilcox)
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