A Maiden's Pledge (Song)

I do not wish to win your vow
To take me soon or late as bride,
And lift me from the nook where now
I tarry your farings to my side.
I am blissful ever to abide
In this green labyrinth--let all be,
If but, whatever may betide,
You do not leave off loving me!

Your comet-comings I will wait
With patience time shall not wear through;
The yellowing years will not abate
My largened love and truth to you,
Nor drive me to complaint undue
Of absence, much as I may pine,
If never another 'twixt us two
Shall come, and you stand wholly mine.

The Voice of Things

Forty Augusts--aye, and several more--ago,
   When I paced the headlands loosed from dull employ,
The waves huzza'd like a multitude below
   In the sway of an all-including joy
      Without cloy.

Blankly I walked there a double decade after,
   When thwarts had flung their toils in front of me,
And I heard the waters wagging in a long ironic laughter
   At the lot of men, and all the vapoury
      Things that be.

Wheeling change has set me again standing where
   Once I heard the waves huzza at Lammas-tide;
But they supplicate now--like a congregation there
   Who murmur the Confession--I outside,
      Prayer denied.


"Why do you sit, O pale thin man,
   At the end of the room
By that harpsichord, built on the quaint old plan?
  --It is cold as a tomb,
And there's not a spark within the grate;
   And the jingling wires
   Are as vain desires
   That have lagged too late."

"Why do I?  Alas, far times ago
   A woman lyred here
In the evenfall; one who fain did so
   From year to year;
And, in loneliness bending wistfully,
   Would wake each note
   In sick sad rote,
   None to listen or see!

"I would not join.  I would not stay,
   But drew away,
Though the winter fire beamed brightly . . . Aye!
   I do to-day
What I would not then; and the chill old keys,
   Like a skull's brown teeth
   Loose in their sheath,
   Freeze my touch; yes, freeze."

A Meeting with Despair

As evening shaped I found me on a moor
   Which sight could scarce sustain:
The black lean land, of featureless contour,
   Was like a tract in pain.

"This scene, like my own life," I said, "is one
   Where many glooms abide;
Toned by its fortune to a deadly dun -
   Lightless on every side.

I glanced aloft and halted, pleasure-caught
   To see the contrast there:
The ray-lit clouds gleamed glory; and I thought,
   "There's solace everywhere!"

Then bitter self-reproaches as I stood
   I dealt me silently
As one perverse--misrepresenting Good
   In graceless mutiny.

Against the horizon's dim-discerned wheel
   A form rose, strange of mould:
That he was hideous, hopeless, I could feel
   Rather than could behold.

"'Tis a dead spot, where even the light lies spent
   To darkness!" croaked the Thing.
"Not if you look aloft!" said I, intent
   On my new reasoning.

 "Yea--but await awhile!" he cried.  "Ho-ho! -
   Look now aloft and see!"
I looked.  There, too, sat night:  Heaven's radiant show
   Had gone.  Then chuckled he.