And we should be so long, so long,
If we dared, in singing; for, dream on dream,
They float on in a happy stream;
They float from the gold strings, float, from the keys,
Float from the open’d lips of Louise:
But, alas! the sea-salt oozes through
The chinks of the tiles of the Closet Blue;
And ever the great bell overhead Booms in the wind a knell for the dead, The wind plays on it a knell for the dead.
(THEY SING ALL TOGETHER)
How long ago was it, how long ago,
He came to this tower with hands full of snow?
“Kneel down, O love Louise, kneel down,” he said,
And sprinkled the dusty snow over my head.
He watch’d the snow melting, it ran through my hair, Ran over my shoulders, white shoulders and bare.
“I cannot weep for thee, poor love Louise,
For my tears are all hidden deep under the seas;
“In a gold and blue casket she keeps all my tears, But my eyes are no longer blue, as in old years;
“Yea, they grow gray with time, grow small and dry, I am so feeble now, would I might die.”
And in truth the great bell overhead Left off pealing for the dead, Perchance because the wind was—dead.
Will he come back again or is he dead?
Or is he sleeping, my scarf round his head?
Or did they strangle him as he lay there,
With the long scarlet scarf I used to wear?
Only I pray thee, Lord, let him come here;
Both his soul and his body to me are most dear.
Dear Lord, that loves me, I wait to receive
Either body or spirit this wild Christmas-eve.
Through the floor shot up a lily red, With a patch of earth from the land of the dead, For he was strong in the land of the dead.
What matter that his cheeks were pale,
His kind kiss’d lips all gray?
“O love Louise, have you waited long?”
“O my Lord Arthur, yea.”
What if his hair that brush’d her cheek
Was stiff with frozen rime?
His eyes were grown quite blue again.
As in the happy time.
“O, love Louise, this is the key
Of the happy golden land!
O, sisters, cross the bridge with me,
My eyes are full of sand,
What matter that I cannot see,
If ye take me by the hand?”
And ever the great bell overhead, And the tumbling sea mourned for the dead; For their song ceased, and they were dead.
“There’s a footstep coming; look out and
“The leaves are falling, the wind is calling;
No one cometh across the lea.”—
“There’s a footstep coming; O sister,
“The ripple flashes, the white foam dashes;
No one cometh across the brook.”—