In vain, in vain! my choice was gone!
Better to struggle on alone
Than blot your pure life’s blameless shine
With cloudy stains of mine.
A vague regret, a troubled prayer,
And then the future vast and fair
Will tempt your young and eager eyes
With all its glad surprise.
And I shall watch you, safe and far,
As some late traveller eyes a star
Wheeling beyond his desert sands
To gladden happier lands.
’Tis love that blinds my heart and eyes,—
I sometimes say in doubting dreams,—
The face that near me perfect seems
Cold Memory paints in fainter dyes.
’T was but love’s dazzled eyes—I
That made her seem so strangely bright;
The face I worshipped yesternight,
I dread to meet it changed to-day.
As, when dies out some song’s refrain,
And leaves your eyes in happy tears,
Awake the same fond idle fears,—
It cannot sound so sweet again.
You wait and say with vague annoy,
“It will not sound so sweet again,”
Until comes back the wild refrain
That floods your soul with treble joy.
So when I see my love again
Fades the unquiet doubt away,
While shines her beauty like the day
Over my happy heart and brain.
And in that face I see no more
The fancied faults I idly dreamed,
But all the charms that fairest seemed,
I find them, fairer than before.
God send me tears!
Loose the fierce band that binds my tired brain,
Give me the melting heart of other years,
And let me weep again!
Before me pass
The shapes of things inexorably true.
Gone is the sparkle of transforming dew
From every blade of grass.
In life’s high noon
Aimless I stand, my promised task undone,
And raise my hot eyes to the angry sun
That will go down too soon.
Turned into gall
Are the sweet joys of childhood’s sunny reign;
And memory is a torture, love a chain
That binds my life in thrall.
And childhood’s pain
Could to me now the purest rapture yield;
I pray for tears as in his parching field
The husbandman for rain.
We pray in vain!
The sullen sky flings down its blaze of brass;
The joys of life all scorched and withering pass;
I shall not weep again.
O grandly flowing River!
O silver-gliding River!
Thy springing willows shiver
In the sunset as of old;
They shiver in the silence
Of the willow-whitened islands,
While the sun-bars and the sand-bars
Fill air and wave with gold.
O gay, oblivious River!
O sunset-kindled River!
Do you remember ever
The eyes and skies so blue
On a summer day that shone here,
When we were all alone here,
And the blue eyes were too wise
To speak the love they knew?