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.
LOVE IN A LOOK
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.