The leaves talked in the twilight, dear;
Hearken the tale they told:
How in some far-off place and year,
Before the world grew old,
I was a dreaming forest tree,
You were a wild, sweet bird
Who sheltered at the heart of me
Because the north wind stirred;
How, when the chiding gale was still,
When peace fell soft on fear,
You stayed one golden hour to fill
My dream with singing, dear.
To-night the self-same songs are sung
The first green forest heard;
My heart and the gray world grow young -
To shelter you, my bird.
A lovely flight of imagination, published posthumously a year after Sophie Jewett's passing, this poem contains a wonderful tenderness expressed from an adult to a child, though not necessarily that adult's child. Jewett never had children of her own, but she was a professor at Wellesley College, where she had lots of children (young adults) to take under her wing. The real takeaway of the poem comes in the last two lines: "My heart and the gray world grow young / To shelter you, my bird." Harboring and protecting a child brings youth, strength, and vitality back to the narrator of the poem, who is represented as a "dreaming forest tree." The tree loves nothing more than to protect the bird from all the winds and dangers of the world, and in return, gets a "golden hour" of singing.
For Jewett, who taught writing, that hour of golden singing must have been reading the work of her students, about whom I am sure she cared deeply. Having taught, if only briefly, I can recall few prouder moments than reading poems composed by my students. Even though I am not a parent, I feel like this must be a familiar feeling to parents: a feeling of strength and youth when sheltering a child. Regardless, it's a lovely and touching poem.