An empty sky, a world of heather,
Purple of foxglove, yellow of broom;
We two among them wading together,
Shaking out honey, treading perfume.
Crowds of bees are giddy with clover,
Crowds of grasshoppers skip at our feet,
Crowds of larks at their matins hang over,
Thanking the Lord for a life so sweet.
Flusheth the rise with her purple favor,
Gloweth the cleft with her golden ring,
’Twixt the two brown butterflies waver,
Lightly settle, and sleepily swing.
We two walk till the purple dieth
And short dry grass under foot is brown.
But one little streak at a distance lieth
Green like a ribbon to prank the down.
Over the grass we stepped unto it,
And God He knoweth how blithe we were!
Never a voice to bid us eschew it:
Hey the green ribbon that showed so fair!
Hey the green ribbon! we kneeled beside it,
We parted the grasses dewy and sheen;
Drop over drop there filtered and slided
A tiny bright beck that trickled between.
Tinkle, tinkle, sweetly it sang to us,
Light was our talk as of faery bells—
Faery wedding-bells faintly rung to us
Down in their fortunate parallels.
Hand in hand, while the sun peered over,
We lapped the grass on that youngling spring;
Swept back its rushes, smoothed its clover,
And said, “Let us follow it westering.”
A dappled sky, a world of meadows,
Circling above us the black rooks fly
Forward, backward; lo, their dark shadows
Flit on the blossoming tapestry—
Flit on the beck, for her long grass parteth
As hair from a maid’s bright eyes blown back;
And, lo, the sun like a lover darteth
His flattering smile on her wayward track.
Sing on! we sing in the glorious weather
Till one steps over the tiny strand,
So narrow, in sooth, that still together
On either brink we go hand in hand.
The beck grows wider, the hands must sever.
On either margin, our songs all done,
We move apart, while she singeth ever,
Taking the course of the stooping sun.
He prays, “Come over”—I may
I cry, “Return”—but he cannot come:
We speak, we laugh, but with voices hollow;
Our hands are hanging, our hearts are numb.
A breathing sigh, a sigh for answer,
A little talking of outward things
The careless beck is a merry dancer,
Keeping sweet time to the air she sings.
A little pain when the beck grows wider;
“Cross to me now—for her wavelets swell.”
“I may not cross,”—and the voice beside her
Faintly reacheth, though heeded well.