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‘Twas noontide of summer,

And mid-time of night;

And stars, in their orbits,

Shone pale, thro’ the light

Of the brighter, cold moon,

‘Mid planets her slaves,

Herself in the Heavens,

Her beam on the waves.

I gazed awhile

On her cold smile;

Too cold-too cold for me-

There pass’d,

as a shroud,

A fleecy cloud,

And I turned away thee,

Proud Evening Star,

In the glory afar,

And dearer thy beam shall be;

For joy to my heart

Is the proud part

Thou bearest in Heaven at night,

And more I admire

Thy distant fire,

Than that colder, lowly light.

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Be still, my soul, be still; the arms you bear are brittle,

Earth and high heaven are fixt of old and founded strong.

Think rather,–call to thought, if now you grieve a little,

The days when we had rest, O soul, for they were long.

 

Men loved unkindness then, but lightness in the quarry

I slept and saw not; tears fell down, I did not mourn;

Sweat ran and blood sprang out and I was never sorry:

Then it was well with me, in days ere I was born.

 

Now, and I muse for why and never find the reason,

I pace the earth, and drink the air, and feel the sun.

Be still, be still, my soul; it is but for a reason:

Let us endure an hour and see injustice done.

 

Ay, look: high heaven and earth all from the prime foundation;

All thoughts to rive the heart are here, and all are vain:

Horror are scorn and hate and fear and indignation–

Oh, why did I awake? when shall I sleep again?

I thought, because we had been friends so long,

That I knew all your dear lips dared intend

Before they dawned to speech. Our thoughts would blend,

I dreamed, like memories that faintly throng.

Your voice dwelt in me like an olden song.

Petal, I thought, from petal I could rend

The blossom of your soul, and at the end

Find still the same fragrance, I was wrong.

Last evening in your eyes love brimmed to birth;

Our friendship faded, lost in passion’s mist.

We had been strangers only! Here close-caught

Against my heart the dim face I had sought

So long! And now the only thing on earth-

Your piteous mouth, a-tremble to be kissed!

Where sunless rivers weep

Their waves into the deep,

She sleeps a charmed sleep:

Awake her not.

Led by a single star,

She came from very far

To seek where shadows are

Her pleasant lot.

 

She left the rosy morn,

She left the fields of corn,

For twilight cold and lorn

And water springs.

Through sleep, as through a veil,

She sees the sky look pale,

And hears the nightingale

That sadly sings.

 

Rest, rest, a perfect rest

Shed over brow and breast;

Her face is toward the west,

The purple land.

She cannot see the grain

Ripening on hill and plain;

She cannot feel the rain

Upon her hand.

 

Rest, rest, for evermore

Upon a mossy shore;

Rest, rest at the heart’s core

Till time shall cease:

Sleep that no pain shall wake;

Night that no morn shall break

Till joy shall overtake

Her perfect peace.

There is no magic any more,

We meet as other people do,

You work no miracles for me

Nor I for you.

 

You were the wind and I the sea-

There is no splendor any more,

I have grown listless as the pool

Beside the shore.

 

But though the pool is safe from storm

And from the tide has found surcease,

It grows more bitter the sea,

For all its peace.

All lovely things will have an ending,

All lovely things will fade and die,

And youth, that’s now so bravely spending,

Will beg a penny by and by.

 

Fine ladies soon are all forgotten,

And goldenrod is dust when dead,

The sweetest flesh and flowers are rotten

And cobwebs tent the brightest head.

 

Come back, true love! Sweet youth, return!-

But time goes on, and will, unheeding,

Though hands will reach, and eyes will yearn,

And the wild days set true hearts bleeding.

 

Come back, true love! remain!-

But goldenrod and daisies wither,

And over them blows autumn rain,

They pass, they pass, and know not whither.

All through an empty place I go,

And find her not in any room;

The candles and the lamps I light

Go down before a wind of gloom.

Thick-spraddled lies the dust about,

A fit, sad place to write her name

Or draw her face the way she looked

That legendary night she came.

 

The old house crumbles bit by bit;

Each day I hear the ominous thud

That says another rent is there

For winds to pierce and storms to flood.

 

My orchards groan and sag with fruit;

Where, Indian-wise, the bees go round;

I let it rot upon the bough;

I eat what falls upon the ground.

 

The heavy cows go laboring

In agony with clotted teats;

My hands are slack; my blood is cold;

I marvel that my heart still beats.

 

I have no will to weep or sing,

No least desire to pray or curse;

The loss of love is a terrible thing;

They lie who say that death is worse.

 

 

 

I heard the dogs howl in the moonlight night;

I went to the window to see the sight;

All the Dead that ever I knew

Going one by one and two by two.

 

On they pass’d, and on they pass’d;

Townsfellows all, from first to last;

Born in the moonlight of the lane,

Quench’d in the heavy shadow again.

 

Schoolmates, marching as when they play’d

At soldiers once-but now staid;

Those were the strangest sight to me

Who were drown’d, I knew, in awful sea.

 

Straight and handsome folk, bent and weak, too;

Some that I loved, and gasp’d to speak to;

Some but a day in their churchyard bed;

Some that I had not known were dead.

 

A long, long crowd-were each seem’d lonely,

Yet of them all there was one, one only,

Raised a head or look’d my way;

She linger’d a moment-she might not say.

 

How long since I saw that fair pale face!

Ah, Mother dear! might I only place

My head on thy breast a moment to rest,

While thy hand on my tearful cheek were prest!

 

On, on, a moving bridge they made

Across the moo-stream, from shade to shade,

Young and old, women and men;

Many long-forgot, but remembered then,

 

And first there came a bitter laughter;

A sound of tears a moment after;

And then a music so lofty and gay,

That eve morning, day by day,

I strive to recall it if I may.

 

 

 

 

 

I seek no more to bridge the gulf that lies

Betwixt our separate ways;

For vainly my heart prays,

Hope droops her head and dies;

I see the sad, tired answer in your eyes.

 

I did not heed, and yet the stars were clear;

Dreaming that love could mate

Lives grown so separate;–

But at the best, my dear,

I see we should not have been near.

 

I knew the end before the end was nigh:

The stars have grown so plain;

Vainly I sigh, in vain

For things that come to some,

But unto you and me will never come.

 

Come we to summer, to the summer we will come,

For the woods are full of bluebells and the hedges full of bloom,

And the crow is on the oak-a-building of her nest,

And love is burning diamonds in my true lover’s breast;

She sits beneath the whitethorn-a-plaiting of her hair,

And I will to my true lover with a fond request repair;

I will look upon her face, I will in her beauty rest,

And lay my aching weariness upon her lovely breast.

 

The clock-a-clay is creeping on the open bloom of May,

The merry bee is trampling the pinky threads all day,

And the chaffinch it is brooding on its grey mossy nest

In the whitethorn bush were I will lean upon my lover’s breast;

I’ll lean upon her breast and I’ll whisper in her ear

That I cannot get a wink o’sleep for thinking of my dear;

I hunger at my meat and I daily fade away

Like the hedge rose that is broken in the heat of the day.

 

 

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