’Or the night shall rest my fee
Or the day shall nought of me,’
Quoth the witch. ’An’t thee beseem,
Sell thy kingdom for a dream.’
‘Now what will be let it be!’
Quoth the queen; ‘but choose the right.’
And the white-witch scorns at her,
Stately standing in their sight.
Then without or sound or stir
She is not. For offering meet
Lieth the token at their feet,
Which they, weary and sore bestead
In the storm, lift up, full fain
Ere the waning light hath fled
Those high towers they left to gain.
Deep among tree roots astray
Here a torrent tears its way,
There a cedar split aloft
Lies head downward. Now the oft
Muttering thunder, now the wind
Wakens. How the path to find?
How the turning? Deep ay deep,
Far ay far. She needs must weep,
This fair woman, lost, astray
In the forest; nought to say.
Yet the sick thoughts come and go,
’I, ‘t was I would have it so.’
Shelter at the last, a roof
Wrought of ling (in their behoof,
Foresters, that drive the deer).
What, and must they couch them here?
Ay, and ere the twilight fall
Gather forest berries small
And nuts down beaten for a meal.
Now the shy wood-wonners steal
Nearer, bright-eyed furry things,
Winking owls on silent wings
Glance, and float away. The light
In the wake o’ the storm takes flight,
Day departeth: night—’t is night.
The crown’d king musing at morn by a clear sweet
Palms on the slope o’ the valley, and no winds blow;
Birds blameless, dove-eyed, mystical talk deliver,
Oracles haply. The language he doth not know.
Bare, blue, are yon peaked hills for a rampart lying,
As dusty gold is the light in the palms o’erhead,
‘What is the name o’ the land? and this calm sweet sighing,
If it be echo, where first was it caught and spread?
I might—I might be at rest in some field
If this be asphodel set in the herbage fair,
I know not how I should wonder, so sweet the vision,
So clear and silent the water, the field, the air.
Love, are you by me! Malva, what think you this
Love, do you see the fine folk as they move over there?
Are they immortals? Look you a winged one leaneth
Down from yon pine to the river of us unaware.
All unaware; and the country is full of voices,
Mild strangers passing: they reck not of me nor of thee.
List! about and around us wondrous sweet noises,
Laughter of little children and maids that dreaming be.