MARGARET BY THE MERE SIDE.
Lying imbedded in the green champaign
That gives no shadow to thy silvery face,
Open to all the heavens, and all their train,
The marshalled clouds that cross with stately pace,
No steadfast hills on thee reflected rest,
Nor waver with the dimpling of thy breast.
O, silent Mere! about whose marges spring
Thick bulrushes to hide the reed-bird’s nest;
Where the shy ousel dips her glossy wing,
And balanced in the water takes her rest:
While under bending leaves, all gem-arrayed,
Blue dragon-flies sit panting in the shade:
Warm, stilly place, the sundew loves thee well,
And the green sward comes creeping to thy brink,
And golden saxifrage and pimpernel
Lean down to thee their perfumed heads to drink;
And heavy with the weight of bees doth bend
White clover, and beneath thy wave descend:
While the sweet scent of bean-fields, floated wide
On a long eddy of the lightsome air
Over the level mead to thy lone side,
Doth lose itself among thy zephyrs rare,
With wafts from hawthorn bowers and new-cut hay,
And blooming orchards lying far away.
Thou hast thy Sabbaths, when a deeper calm
Descends upon thee, quiet Mere, and then
There is a sound of bells, a far off psalm
From gray church towers, that swims across the fen;
And the light sigh where grass and waters meet,
Is thy meek welcome to the visit sweet.
Thou hast thy lovers. Though the angler’s
Dimple thy surface seldom; though the oar
Fill not with silvery globes thy fringing sod,
Nor send long ripples to thy lonely shore;
Though few, as in a glass, have cared to trace
The smile of nature moving on thy face;
Thou hast thy lovers truly. ’Mid the cold
Of northern tarns the wild-fowl dream of thee,
And, keeping thee in mind, their wings unfold,
And shape their course, high soaring, till they see
Down in the world, like molten silver, rest
Their goal, and screaming plunge them in thy breast.
Fair Margaret, who sittest all day long
On the gray stone beneath the sycamore,
The bowering tree with branches lithe and strong,
The only one to grace the level shore,
Why dost thou wait? for whom with patient cheer
Gaze yet so wistfully adown the Mere?
Thou canst not tell, thou dost not know, alas!
Long watchings leave behind them little trace;
And yet how sweetly must the mornings pass,
That bring that dreamy calmness to thy face!
How quickly must the evenings come that find
Thee still regret to leave the Mere behind!
Thy cheek is resting on thy hand; thine eyes
Are like twin violets but half unclosed,
And quiet as the deeps in yonder skies.
Never more peacefully in love reposed
A mother’s gaze upon her offspring dear,
Than thine upon the long far-stretching Mere.