She saw my arms about his neck,
She saw my head upon his breast.
Oh, why did my sister hate me so
That she would not let me rest?
Loud then laughed my cruel sister,
False and fair of face was she,
“O that is never your own true love,
For he lies dead in a far countrie!”
I loosed the clasp of my clinging arms
And his shining face grew still and white;
My tears ran down like bitter rain
As I watched him fade from sight.
May the salt sea bury me in its waves,
May the mountains fall and cover my head,
Since I had not faith in my only love
When he came back from the dead.
The lad came to the door at night,
When lovers crown their vows,
And whistled soft and out of sight
In shadow of the boughs.
“I shall not vex you with my face
Henceforth, my love, for aye;
So take me in your arms a space
Before the east is gray.
“When I from hence away am past
I shall not find a bride,
And you shall be the first and last
I ever lay beside.”
She heard and went and knew not why;
Her heart to his she laid;
Light was the air beneath the sky
But dark under the shade.
“Oh, do you breathe, lad, that your breast
Seems not to rise and fall,
And here upon my bosom prest
There beats no heart at all?”
“Oh, loud, my girl, it once would knock,
You should have felt it then;
But since for you I stopped the clock
It never goes again.”
“Oh, lad, what is it, lad, that drops
Wet from your neck on mine?
What is it falling on my lips,
My lad, that tastes like brine?”
“Oh like enough ’tis blood, my dear,
For when the knife has slit
The throat across from ear to ear
’Twill bleed because of it.”
Under the stars the air was light
But dark below the boughs,
The still air of the speechless night,
When lovers crown their vows.
When candle-flames burn blue,
Between the night and morning,
I know that it is you,
My love, that was so true,
And that I killed with scorning.
The watch-dogs howl and bay;
I pale, and leave off smiling.
Only the other day
I held your heart in play
Intent upon beguiling.
A little while ago
I wrung your soul with sighing,
Or brought a sudden glow
Into your cheek by low
Soft answers, in replying.
My life was all disguise,
A mask of feints and fancies;
I used to lift my eyes,
And take you by surprise
With smiles and upward glances.
And now, where’er I go,
Your sad ghost follows after;
And blue the flame burns low,
And doors creak to and fro,
And silent grows the laughter.