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And oft I heard the tender dove
In firry woodlands making moan ;
I had no motion of my own.
Before I dream'd that pleasant dreamStill hither thither idly sway'd
Like those long mosses in the stream.
Or from the bridge I lean'd to hear
The milldam rushing down with noise, And see the minnows everywhere
In crystal eddies glance and poise, The tall flag-flowers when they sprung
Below the range of stepping-stones, Or those three chestnuts near, that hung
In masses thick with milky cones.
But, Alice, what an hour was that,
When after roving in the woods ('Twas April then), I came and sat
Below the chestnuts, when their buds Were glistening to the breezy blue ;
And on the slope, an absent fool,
But angled in the higher pool.
A love-song I had somewhere read,
An echo from a measured strain, Beat time to nothing in my
head From some odd corner of the brain. It haunted me, the morning long,
With weary sameness in the rhymes, The phantom of a silent song,
That went and came a thousand times.
Then leapt a trout. In lazy mood
I watch'd the little circles die ; They past into the level flood,
And there a vision caught my eye; The reflex of a beauteous form,
A glowing arm, a gleaming neck, As when a sunbeam wavers warm
Within the dark and dimpled beck.
For you remember, you
had set, That morning, on the casement-edge A long green box of mignonette,
And you were leaning from the ledge : And when I raised my eyes, above
They met with two so full and brightSuch eyes! I swear to you, my
love, That these have never lost their light.
I loved, and love dispell’d the fear
That I should die an early death : For love possess'd the atmosphere,
And fill'd the breast with purer breath. My mother thought, What ails the boy?
For I was alter'd, and began
And with the certain step of man.
I loved the brimming wave that swam
Thro' quiet meadows round the mill, The sleepy pool above the dam,
The pool beneath it never still, The meal-sacks on the whiten’d floor,
The dark round of the dripping wheel, The very
air about the door
And oft in ramblings on the wold,
When April nights began to blow, And April's crescent glimmer'd cold,
I saw the village lights below; I knew your taper far away,
And full at heart of trembling hore, From off the wold I came, and lay
Upon the freshly-flower'd slope.
The deep brook groan'd beneath the mill ;
And " by that lamp," I thought, “she sits !" The white chalk-quarry from the hill
Gleam'd to the flying moon by fits. “O that I were beside her now !
O will she answer if I call?
Sweet Alice, if I told her all ?”
Sometimes I saw you sit and spin ;
And, in the pauses of the wind, Sometimes I heard you sing within ; Sometimes your
shadow cross'd the blind. At last you rose and moved the light,
And the long shadow of the chair Flitted across into the night,
And all the casement darken'd there.
But when at last I dared to speak,
The lanes, you kuow, were white with may, Your ripe lips moved not, but your cheek
Flush'd like the coming of the day; And so it was half-sly, half-shy,
You would, and would not, little one ! Although I pleaded tenderly,
and I were all alone.
And slowly was my mother brought
To yield consent to my desire :
I might have look'd a little higher ; And I was young—too young to wed : " Yet must I love her for
sake ; Go fetch your Alice here,” she said :
Her eyelid quiver'd as she spake.
And down I went to fetch
bride : But, Alice, you were ill at ease ; This dress and that by turns you tried,
Too fearful that you should not please. I loved you better for your fears,
I knew you could not look but well; And dews, that would have fall’n in tears,
I kiss'd away before they fell.
I watch'd the little flutterings,
The doubt my mother would not see; She spoke at large of many things,
And at the last she spoke of me; And turning look'd upon your face,
As near this door you sat apart, And rose, and, with a silent grace
Approaching, press'd you heart to heart.