We are as children in a field at play
Beside a road whose way we do not know,
Save that somewhere it meets the end of day.
Upon the road there is a Passer-By
Who, pausing, beckons one of us—and lo!
Quickly he goes, nor stays to tell us why.
One day I shall look up and see him there
Beckoning me, and with the Passer-By
I, too, shall take the road—I wonder where?
By the pulse that beats in my throat
By my heart like a bird
I know who passed through the dusk
Though he spoke no word!
I cannot move in my place,
I am chained and still;
I pray that the moon pause not
By my window-sill.
I have hidden my face in my hair
And my eyes are veiled—
Not even a star must know
How my lips have paled—
Was ever a night so quick
’Neath a moon so round?
I hear the earth as it turns—
And my heart’s low sound!
“Sad one, must you weep alway?
Youth’s ill wedded with despair;
Ringless hand and robe of grey
Mock the charms which they declare.”
Sad and sweetly answered she,
“What are comely robes to me?
I would wear a grass green dress,
Dew pearls for my gems—no less
Now can comfort me.”
“Sweet, the shining of your hair
(All forgotten and undone)
Squanders ’neath the veil you wear
Gold whose loss bereaves the sun.”
Very sad and low said she,
“What is shining hair to me?
When from out the rain-wet mold
Kingcups borrow of its gold
Sweet and sweet ’twill be.”
“Love, O Love! your hand is chill
As a snowflake lost in spring,
Wild it flutters—then lies still
As a bird with prisoned wing!”
Sad and patient answered she,
“As a bird I would be free;
As the spring I would find birth
In the sweet, forgetful earth—
Pray you, let it be!”
Never in all her sweet and holy youth
Seemed she so beautiful! The tired lines
Etch her white face with look so wholly pure
I tremble—dare I speak to her of aught?—
She is so wrapt in silence. Yet her lips
Part on a word whose honey she doth taste
And fears to lose by uttering too soon.
I know the word; its meaning is plain writ
In the wide eyes she turns upon the Child.
I dare not speak. No word of mine could find
Its way into a soul close sealed with God
And busy with the thousand mysteries
Revealed to every mother. The soft hair
Veiling her placid brow is all unbound,
Ungentle hands are mine but, trained by love,
She might conceive them gentle—yet, I pause—
I’ll not disturb her thought . . . . .