Mary F. Butts (1836-1902)

Not to be confused with the novelist Mary Franeis Butts (1890-1937).

"A native of Westerly, R.I.  Her maiden name was Barber.  She has been a contributer for twenty years, and is the author of the lines, Build a little fence of trust, etc. In 1889, she published Cockle Shells and Silver Bells . (Charles A. Wenborne.)." (Crandall)


We oft are sorrowful yet have no word
To tell why gloom has settled on the day
Like clouds that blot the azure field with gray;
We know not why the singing of a bird
Touches the soul to pain as if we heard
Within the voice another music say
Things not translated in our human way;
We pierce ourselves with blame yet have not erred.
Exiles we are, and when the outreaching heart
Is quickened to sense its native atmosphere,
When through the fair world's form the spirit part
Reveals itself an instant passing dear,
When in a flower's sweet face new meanings dart
We mourn, shut out, for that which is so near.

(Text from Representative Sonnets by American Poets)

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