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The October sun is lighting up
The sunny limestone wall,
The five-leaved ivy's crimson leaves
Have not begun to fall,
Black berries on a carmine stem
Are ripening over all--
And I? I gaze through blinded eyes,
On six steps in the wall.


Six rough stone steps, which bear to me
The record of a life;
God knows--O how I longed to smooth
Such steps for thee, sweet wife;
But He had hedged us close within
A lot with labor rife;
Oft times it seemed like wasted bloom,
Thou and thy toilsome life.


The noonday sunshine, calm and warm,
Is pausing on the stair,--
My heart with all its memories
Is also pausing there,
Recalling one whose weary tread
Came less from years than care;
But a world of patient love was in
That slow step on the stair.


Time was my heart swelled up against
The crosses of our state;
For us, too early fortune's smile,
Or, misery! too late;
Till when I saw thy faint, wan smile
I cursed what seemed a fate;
But, O! I learned by that pale gleam
To read aright our state.


To thee, the landscape never lost
Its beauty or delight,
The peaceful wild flower raised its eye
To one as tranquil, quite;
The Eden glory lingering still
On all that met thy sight;
I see thee now upon the stair
Tranced in a calm delight.


Rough steps I could not smooth for thee
Were smoothed by thy sweet will,
Which sucked the honey-drop of good
From every draught of ill.
Th' ideal grace was born with thee,
But, O! a holier still
Caught the odor of high sanctity
From thy transfigured will.


November's sun will blink upon
A cheerless, cold stone wall,
The five-leaved ivy's crimson leaves
Will soon begin to fall,
And lonely birds will come to peck
The clinging berries small:
Sweet wife, thy dead heart speaks to mine
From six steps in the wall.