“I journeyed to the place again the fourth time
(The best and rarest visit of the rare,
As it seemed to me, engrossed about these goings),
And found her there.
“When I bent me to my pilgrimage the fifth time
(Soft-thinking as I journeyed I would dare
A certain word at token of good auspice),
I found her there.
“That landscape did I traverse for the sixth
And dreamed on what we purposed to prepare;
I reached a tryst before my journey’s end came,
And found her there.
“I went again—long after—aye,
the seventh time;
The look of things was sinister and bare
As I caught no customed signal, heard no voice call,
Nor found her there.
“And now I gad the globe—day, night,
and any time,
To light upon her hiding unaware,
And, maybe, I shall nigh me to some nymph-niche,
And find her there!”
" But how,” said I, “has your so little
Given roomage for such loving, loss, despair?
A boy so young!” Forthwith I turned my lantern
Upon him there.
His head was white. His small form, fine aforetime,
Was shrunken with old age and battering wear,
An eighty-years long plodder saw I pacing
Beside me there.
The sun threw down a radiant spot
On the face in the winding-sheet —
The face it had lit when a babe’s in its cot;
And the sun knew not, and the face knew not
That soon they would no more meet.
Now that the grave has shut its door,
And lets not in one ray,
Do they wonder that they meet no more —
That face and its beaming visitor —
That met so many a day?
“You look like a widower,” she said
Through the folding-doors with a laugh from the bed,
As he sat by the fire in the outer room,
Reading late on a night of gloom,
And a cab-hack’s wheeze, and the clap of its feet
In its breathless pace on the smooth wet street,
Were all that came to them now and then . . .
“You really do!” she quizzed again.
And the Spirits behind the curtains heard,
And also laughed, amused at her word,
And at her light-hearted view of him.
“Let’s get him made so—just for a whim!”
Said the Phantom Ironic. “’Twould serve her right
If we coaxed the Will to do it some night.”
“O pray not!” pleaded the younger one,
The Sprite of the Pities. “She said it in fun!”
But so it befell, whatever the cause,
That what she had called him he next year was;
And on such a night, when she lay elsewhere,
He, watched by those Phantoms, again sat there,
And gazed, as if gazing on far faint shores,
At the empty bed through the folding-doors
As he remembered her words; and wept
That she had forgotten them where she slept.