There is a little garden full of white flowers before this house, before this little house, which is sunken in a green hillock to the lintel of its door. The white flowers are full of honey; yellow butterflies and bees suck at them. The unseen wind comes rushing like a presence and a power which the heart feels only. The white flowers press together before it in a soft tumult, and shake out fragrance like censers; but the bees and the butterflies cling to them blowing. The crickets chirp in the green roof of the house unceasingly, like clocks which have told off the past, and will tell off the future.
I pray you, friend, who dwells in this little house sunken in the green hillock, with the white flower-garden before the door?
A dead man.
Passes he ever out of his little dwelling and down the path between his white flower-bushes?
He never passes out.
There is no chimney in that grassy roof. How fares he when the white flowers are gone and the white storm drives?
He feels it not.
Had he happiness?
His heart broke for it.
Does his heart pain him in there?
He has forgot.
Comes ever anybody here to visit him?
His widow comes in her black veil, and weeps here, and sometimes his old mother, wavering out in the sun like a black shadow.
And he knows it not?
He knows it not.
He knows not of his little prison-house in the green hillock, of his white flower-garden, of the winter storm, of his broken heart, and his beloved who yet bear the pain of it, and send out their thoughts to watch with him in the wintry nights?
He knows it not.
Only the living know?
Only the living.
Then, then the tombs be not for the dead, but the living! I would, I would, I would that I were dead, that I might be free from the tomb, and sorrow, and death!
— Mary E. Wilkins, “Pastels in Prose,” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, December 1892