We went a day’s excursion to the stream,
Basked by the bank, and bent to the ripple-gleam,
And I did not know
That life would show,
However it might flower, no finer glow.
I walked in the Sunday sunshine by the road
That wound towards the wicket of your abode,
And I did not think
That life would shrink
To nothing ere it shed a rosier pink.
Unlooked for I arrived on a rainy night,
And you hailed me at the door by the swaying light,
And I full forgot
That life might not
Again be touching that ecstatic height.
And that calm eve when you walked up the stair,
After a gaiety prolonged and rare,
No thought soever
That you might never
Walk down again, struck me as I stood there.
Rewritten from an old draft.
While he was here in breath and bone,
To speak to and to see,
Would I had known—more clearly known —
What that man did for me
When the wind scraped a minor lay,
And the spent west from white
To gray turned tiredly, and from gray
To broadest bands of night!
But I saw not, and he saw not
What shining life-tides flowed
To me-ward from his casual jot
Of service on that road.
He would have said: “’Twas nothing
We all do what we can;
’Twas only what one man would do
For any other man.”
Now that I gauge his goodliness
He’s slipped from human eyes;
And when he passed there’s none can guess,
Or point out where he lies.
What curious things we said,
What curious things we did
Up there in the world we walked till dead
Our kith and kin amid!
How we played at love,
And its wildness, weakness, woe;
Yes, played thereat far more than enough
As it turned out, I trow!
Played at believing in gods
And observing the ordinances,
I for your sake in impossible codes
Right ready to acquiesce.
Thinking our lives unique,
Quite quainter than usual kinds,
We held that we could not abide a week
The tether of typic minds.
—Yet people who day by day
Pass by and look at us
From over the wall in a casual way
Are of this unconscious.
And feel, if anything,
That none can be buried here
Removed from commonest fashioning,
Or lending note to a bier:
No twain who in heart-heaves proved
Themselves at all adept,
Who more than many laughed and loved,
Who more than many wept,
Or were as sprites or elves
Into blind matter hurled,
Or ever could have been to themselves
The centre of the world.