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Below the range of stepping stones, And 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.
An echo from a measured strain,
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 watched 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's 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 ligit.
I loved, and love dispelled the fear
That I should die an early death : For love possessed the atmosphere,
And filled the breast with purer breath.
For I was altered, and began
And with the certain step of man.
Through quiet meadows round the mill,
The pool beneath it never still,
The dark round of the dripping wheel,
air about the door Made misty with the floating meal. And oft in ramblings on the wold,
When April nights began to blow, And April's crescent glimmered cold,
I saw the village lights below; I knew your taper far away,
And full at heart of trembling hope,
Upon the freshly-flowered slope.
And “by that lamp," I thought," she sits !” The white chalk-quarry from the hill
Gleamed 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 ? "
And, in the pauses of the wind, Sometimes I heard you sing within ;
shadow crossed 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 darkened there.
But when at last I dared to speak,
The lanes, you know, were white with May, Your ripe lips moved not, but your cheek
Flushed 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 you and I were all alone.
To yield consent to my desire :
I might have looked a little higher;
“ Yet must I love her for your sake; Go fetch your Alice here,” she said :
Her eyelid quivered 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 kissed away before they fell.
I watched 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 looked upon your face,
As near this door you sat apart,
And rose, and, with a silent grace
Approaching, pressed you heart to heart. Ah, well—but sing the foolish song I
gave you, Alice, on the day When, arm in arm, we went along,
A pensive pair, and you were gay With bridal flowers—that I may seem,
As in the nights of old, to lie Beside the mill-wheel in the stream,
While those full chestnuts whisper by.
It is the miller's daughter,
And she is grown so dear, so dear,
That trembles at her ear:
And I would be the girdle
About her dainty, dainty waist,
In sorrow and in rest:
And all day long to fall and rise
With her laughter or her sighs,
A trifle, sweet! which true love spells
True love interprets--right alone.
For all the spirit is his own.
You must blame Love. His early rage
Had force to make me rhyme in youth,
And makes me talk too much in age.
And now those vivid hours are gone,
Like mine own life to me thou art, Where Past and Present, wound in one,
Do make a garland for the heart: So sing that other song I made,
Half-angered with my happy lot, The day, when in the chestnut shade
I found the blue Forget-me-not.
Love that hath us in the net,
Ah, no! no!
Look through mine eyes with thine. True wife,
Round my true heart thine arms entwine; My other dearer life in life,
Look through my very soul with thine ! Untouched with any shade of years,
May those kind eyes forever dwell! They have not shed a many tears,
Dear eyes, since first I knew them well. Yet tears they shed: they had their part
Of sorrow: for when time was ripe, The still affection of the heart