A Duettist to her pianoforte
song of silence
(E. L. H.—H. C. H.)
Since every sound moves memories,
How can I play you
Just as I might if you raised no scene,
By your ivory rows, of a form between
My vision and your time-worn sheen,
As when each day you
Answered our fingers with ecstasy?
So it’s hushed, hushed, hushed, you are for me!
And as I am doomed to counterchord
Her notes no more
In those old things I used to know,
In a fashion, when we practised so,
“Good-night!—Good-bye!” to your pleated show
Of silk, now hoar,
Each nodding hammer, and pedal and key,
For dead, dead, dead, you are to me!
I fain would second her, strike to her stroke,
As when she was by,
Aye, even from the ancient clamorous “Fall
Of Paris,” or “Battle of Prague” withal,
To the “Roving Minstrels,” or “Elfin Call”
Sung soft as a sigh:
But upping ghosts press achefully,
And mute, mute, mute, you are for me!
Should I fling your polyphones, plaints, and quavers
Afresh on the air,
Too quick would the small white shapes be here
Of the fellow twain of hands so dear;
And a black-tressed profile, and pale smooth ear;
—Then how shall I bear
Such heavily-haunted harmony?
Nay: hushed, hushed, hushed you are for me!
“Where three roads joined”
Where three roads joined it was green and fair,
And over a gate was the sun-glazed sea,
And life laughed sweet when I halted there;
Yet there I never again would be.
I am sure those branchways are brooding now,
With a wistful blankness upon their face,
While the few mute passengers notice how
Spectre-beridden is the place;
Which nightly sighs like a laden soul,
And grieves that a pair, in bliss for a spell
Not far from thence, should have let it roll
Away from them down a plumbless well
While the phasm of him who fared starts up,
And of her who was waiting him sobs from near,
As they haunt there and drink the wormwood cup
They filled for themselves when their sky was clear.
Yes, I see those roads—now rutted and bare,
While over the gate is no sun-glazed sea;
And though life laughed when I halted there,
It is where I never again would be.
There had been years of Passion—scorching,
And much Despair, and Anger heaving high,
Care whitely watching, Sorrows manifold,
Among the young, among the weak and old,
And the pensive Spirit of Pity whispered, “Why?”