One lily stooped to the brooklet,
Her face she knew was fair,
And the face of flowing water
Mirrored her image there.
A hand upraised in envy,
Or carelessness, or jest,
Flung from the turbid water,
Mud, on the lily’s breast.
And all the proud, white lilies
Turned their faces away,
And nobody plucked that lily,
And day, and night, and day
She wept for her ruined beauty:
And the dew-drops, and the rain,
Touched with her tears, in pity
Fell on the muddy stain.
Still stood she in her grieving
Day, and night, and day;
Nor tears, nor dew, nor rain-drops,
Could fade the stain away.
Pining in desolation,
Shunned by each of her kind,
Sought she a bitter solace
In creatures of a coarser mind.
But the breath of the nettle stung her,
And the thistle’s rude embrace
Burned her sensitive nature,
And scarred the fair, stained face.
Lower drooped the lily,
And died at the feet of the weeds;
And only the tender mosses
Ministered to her needs.
And still the tall while lilies
Stand as cold, and proud,
And still the weeds and thistles
Against the lilies crowd.
Alike the same warm sunbeams,
On weed and flower fall,
Alike by the same soil nourished,
And the great God made them all.
* * * * *
I love thee for the soul that shines
Within thine eyes’ soft beaming,
From out whose depths the prisoned fires
Of intellect are gleaming.
I love thee for the mind that soars
Beyond earth’s narrow keeping,
That measures suns, and stars, and worlds,
Through boundless limits sweeping.
I love thee for the voice whose power
Can in my heart awaken
To passioned life each slumbering chord
The ruder tones have shaken.
Thou ne’er, perchance, mayst feel the chain
With which this love has bound thee,
Nor dream thee of the hand that flung
Its glittering links around thee.
And vainly mayst thou deem the task
Thy captive bounds to sever—
Who madly dates to love thee now
Will love thee on forever.
* * * * *
Each was as fair as the other,
And both as my life were dear;
And the voices that lisped me mother,
Heaven’s music in my ear.
One faded from life—and mother,
And died in the summer dawn;
And I turned away from the other
And wept for the child that was gone.
Then I lay in a weird sleep-vision,
Before me an earth dark scene,
And the land of the sweet Elysian,
And only a grave between.
One child soft called me mother
Out from the shining door,
And smile and beckoned; the other
Unconsciously played on the floor.