Had we not loved full long, and lost all fear,
My ever, my only dear?
Yes; and I saw thee start upon thy way,
So sure that we should meet
Upon our trysting-day.
And even absence then to me was sweet,
Because it brought me time to brood
Upon thy dearness in the solitude.
But ah! to stay, and stay,
And let that moon of April wane itself away,
And let the lovely May
Make ready all her buds for June;
And let the glossy finch forego her tune
That she brought with her in the spring,
And never more, I think, to me can sing;
And then to lead thee home another bride,
In the sultry summer tide,
And all forget me save for shame full sore,
That made thee pray me, absent, “See my face no more.”
O hard, most hard! But while my fretted heart
Shut out, shut down, and full of pain,
Sobbed to itself apart,
Ached to itself in vain,
One came who loveth me
As I love thee....
And let my God remember him for this,
As I do hope He will forget thy kiss,
Nor visit on thy stately head
Aught that thy mouth hath sworn, or thy two eyes have said....
He came, and it was dark. He came, and sighed
Because he knew the sorrow,—whispering low,
And fast, and thick, as one that speaks by rote:
“The vessel lieth in the river reach,
A mile above the beach,
And she will sail at the turning o’ the tide.”
He said, “I have a boat,
And were it good to go,
And unbeholden in the vessel’s wake
Look on the man thou lovedst, and forgive,
As he embarks, a shamefaced fugitive.
Come, then, with me.”
O, how he sighed! The little
stars did wink,
And it was very dark. I gave my hand,—
He led me out across the pasture land,
And through the narrow croft,
Down to the river’s brink.
When thou wast full in spring, thou little sleepy thing,
The yellow flags that broidered thee would stand
Up to their chins in water, and full oft
WE pulled them and the other shining flowers,
That all are gone to-day:
WE two, that had so many things to say,
So many hopes to render clear:
And they are all gone after thee, my dear,—
Gone after those sweet hours,
That tender light, that balmy rain;
Gone “as a wind that passeth away,
And cometh not again.”
I only saw the stars,—I
could not see
The river,—and they seemed to lie
As far below as the other stars were high.
I trembled like a thing about to die:
It was so awful ’neath the majesty
Of that great crystal height, that overhung
The blackness at our feet,
Unseen to fleet and fleet
The flocking stars among,
And only hear the dipping of the oar,
And the small wave’s caressing of the darksome shore.