It’s little I can tell
About the birds in books;
And yet I know them well,
By their music and their looks:
When May comes down the lane,
Her airy lovers throng
To welcome her with song,
And follow in her train:
Each minstrel weaves his part
In that wild-flowery strain,
And I know them all again
By their echo in my heart.
It’s little that I care
About my darling’s place
In books of beauty rare,
Or heraldries of race:
For when she steps in view,
It matters not to me
What her sweet type may be,
Of woman, old or new.
I can’t explain the art,
But I know her for my own,
Because her lightest tone
Wakes an echo in my heart.
’Twas far away and long ago,
When I was but a dreaming boy,
This fairy tale of love and woe
Entranced my heart with tearful joy;
And while with white Undine I wept
Your spirit,—ah, how strange it seems,—
Was cradled in some star, and slept,
Unconscious of her coming dreams.
Oh, was I born too soon, my dear, or were
you born too late,
That I am going out the door while you come in the gate?
For you the garden blooms galore, the castle is en fete;
You are the coming guest, my dear,—for me the horses wait.
I know the mansion well, my dear, its
rooms so rich and wide;
If you had only come before I might have been your guide,
And hand in hand with you explore the treasures that they hide;
But you have come to stay, my dear, and I prepare to ride.
Then walk with me an hour, my dear, and
pluck the reddest rose
Amid the white and crimson store with which your garden glows,—
A single rose,—I ask no more of what your love bestows;
It is enough to give, my dear,—a flower to him who goes.
The House of Life is yours, my dear, for
many and many a day,
But I must ride the lonely shore, the Road to Far Away:
So bring the stirrup-cup and pour a brimming draught, I pray,
And when you take the road, my dear, I’ll meet you on the way.
Let me but feel thy look’s embrace,
Transparent, pure, and warm,
And I’ll not ask to touch thy face,
Or fold thee in mine arm.
For in thine eyes a girl doth rise,
Arrayed in candid bliss,
And draws me to her with a charm
More close than any kiss.
A loving-cup of golden wine,
Songs of a silver brook,
And fragrant breaths of eglantine,
Are mingled in thy look.
More fair they are than any star,
Thy topaz eyes divine—
And deep within their trysting-nook
Thy spirit blends with mine.