The wise King said, “He cannot come but I will
go to him!”
O David! did you seek with words to make the grave less grim?
And did you think to cheat, with words, the jealous seraphim?
So! he will learn of heaven—he, who scarcely
knew the earth.
All fullness waits the baby eyes that never looked on dearth—
The mystery of death usurps the mystery of birth!
What light has earth to give me for the light that
What is the calm of heaven to him who has not known the wild?—
O, we are both bereft, bereft—the mother and the child!
I built myself a pleasant house.
Content was I to dwell in it—
Its door was fast against the wind
With all the gusty swell of it.
It had two windows, high and clear,
With trees and skies to shine through them,
They were acquainted with the moon,
And every star was mine through them.
Its walls were silent walls; its hearth
Held little fires to gladden me—
And though the nights might weep outside
No sob crept through to sadden me.
Then came your hand upon the latch
(Although I had not sent for you)
And all Outside came blowing in
The way I had not meant it to!
Upon the hearth my tended flame
Leapt to a blaze and died in it.
The night sought out a hidden place
I had forgot and sighed in it.
My window that had known the stars
Seemed suddenly not high at all.
The trees drew back; the friendly birds
Swept dumbly by, too shy to call.
Said you: “It is a pleasant house,
But surely somewhat small for two!”—
And at your word my walls fell down,
Leaving no house at all, just you.
The ladye’s bower faced the sea,
Its casements framed a sea-born day.
She saw the fishers sail away,
And, far and high,
The gulls sweep by
Within the hollow of the sky!
She saw the laggard twilight come
And, chased by rippling wakes of foam,
She saw the fisher fleet come home—
Brown sails a-sheen
Against the green
With shadows creeping in between!
She saw, when it was evening, all
Day’s banners stream in crimson rout
Till night’s soft finger blurred them out,
And, high and far,
A perfect star
Shone where the keys of heaven are!
“O far and constant star,” she said,
“O passing sail, O passing bird,
O passing day—bring you no word
Of winds that steer
His ship a-near?
Where sails my love that sails not here?
“The days in splendid pageant pass,
In lovely peace the nights go by,
And day and night are sweet; but I—
I cannot say
Lo, the bright day!
Can it be dawn and love away?”