The great bare Tree looked down and smiled.
“Good-night, dear little leaves” he said;
And from below each sleepy child
Replied “Good-night,” and murmured,
“It is so nice to go to bed.”
Over the lapsing lagune all the day
Urging my gondola with oar-strokes light,
Always beside one shadowy waterway
I pause and peer, with eager, jealous sight,
Toward the Piazza where Pepita stands,
Wooing the hungry pigeons from their flight.
Dark the canal; but she shines like the sun,
With yellow hair and dreaming, wine-brown eyes.
Thick crowd the doves for food. She gives me none.
She sees and will not see. Vain are my sighs.
One slow, reluctant stroke. Aha! she turns,
Gestures and smiles, with coy and feigned surprise.
Shifting and baffling is our Lido track,
Blind and bewildering all the currents flow.
Me they perplex not. In the midnight black
I hold my way secure and fearless row,
But ah! what chart have I to her, my Sea,
Whose fair, mysterious depths I long to know?
Subtle as sad mirage; true and untrue
She seems, and, pressing ever on in vain,
I yearn across the mocking, tempting blue.
Never she draws more near, never I gain
A furlong’s space toward where she sits and a miles;
Smiles and cares nothing for my love and pain.
How shall I win her? What may strong arm
Against such gentle distance? I can say
No more than this, that when she stands to woo
The doves beside the shadowy waterway,
And when I look and long, sometimes—she smiles
Perhaps she will do more than smile one day!
Light and darkness, brown and fair,
Ha! they think I do not see,—
I behind them, swiftly rowing.
Rowing? Yes, but eyes are free,
Eyes and fancies:—
Now what fire in looks and glances!
Now the dark head bends, grown bolder.
(All unconscious of beholder)
By a kiss!
What could lovers ask or miss
In such moonlight, such June weather,
But a boat like this, (me rowing!)
And forever and together
To be floating?
Ah! if she and I such boating
Might but share one day, some fellow
With strong arms behind, Pasquale,
Or Luigi, with gay awning,
(She likes yellow!)
She—I mean Pepita—mellow
Moonlight on the waves, no other
To break silence or catch whispers,
All the love which now I smother
Told and spoken,—
Listened to, a kiss for token:
How, my Signor? What! so soon
Homeward bound? We, born of Venice,
Live by night and nap by noon.
If ’twere me, now,