When shadows pass across the grass
And April breezes stir the sedge,
Along the brimming river’s edge
I trail my line for silver trout,
And smoke, and dream of you, my lass,
And wonder why we two fell out,
And how the deuce it came about.
When swallows sheer the meadow-mere
And thickets thrill with thrushes’ hymns,
Along the mill-pond’s reedy rims
I trail my line for shining dace;
But how can finny fishes cheer
A fellow, if he find no grace
In your sweet eyes and your dear face?
Let thrushes wing their way and sing
Where cresses freshen pebbled nooks;
By silent rills and singing brooks
I pass my way alone, alas!
With your dear name the woodlands ring—
Your name is murmured by the grass,
By earth, by air, all-where I pass.
The painted bream may swim the stream—
I’ll cast no line to-day, pardi!
In vain the river-ripples gleam,
In vain the thrushes’ minstrelsy.
Vain is the wind that whispers, “Lo!
Thy fish are waiting—Angler, go!”
Will you forgive if I forgive?
Life is too sad, I think, to live
Alone, and dream and smoke and fish;
I’ll say “Forgive” first—if you wish?
For at that word, the Sorcery
Of Love shall change the earth and sky
To Paradise, with cherubim
Instead of birds on every limb.
Rivers shall sing our rhapsody;
The vaulted forest, tree by tree,
High hung with tapestry, shall glow
With golden pillars all a-row.
And down the gilded forest aisle
Shy throngs of violets shall smile
And kiss your feet from tree to tree
While blue-bells droop in courtesy.
And if the sun incarnadine
The clouds—green leaves shall be your screen;
And if the clouds with jealousy
Should weep—we’ll beg of some kind tree
A moment’s hospitality.
Good cheer is here, if you incline;
Moss-hidden springs shall bubble wine
While squirrels chuckle, rank on rank,
And strawberries from every bank
Shall blush to see how deep we drank.
Winds of the West shall cool our eyes
While every woodland creature tries
His voice a little, so that he
May know his notes more perfectly
When crickets start the symphony.
Through hazel glade and scented dell
Where brooklets ring a tinkling bell,
The forest orchestra shall swell,
Until the sun-soaked grasses ring
With crickets strumming string on string.
Then, with your white hand daintily
Scarce touching mine, we’ll leave our tree
And ramble slowly toward the West
Where our high castle’s flaming crest,
Towering behind the setting sun,
Flings out its banners, one by one,
Signals of fire, that day is done.
Deep in that palace we shall find
How blind we are, how blind! how blind!
And how he’ll laugh, who holds the key
To the great portal’s mystery!
And how his joyous laugh will ring
When you and I shall bid him fling
The gates ajar for you and me!
Let shadows flee athwart the lea
When dark December strips the hedge
Along the icy river’s edge;
Yet, if you will forgive me, lass,
The world shall bloom like spring to me,
Snow turn to dew upon the grass
And fagots blossom where you pass.
Swallows shall sheer the frozen mere,
Dead reeds along the mill-pond’s rims
Shall thrill with summer-thrushes’ hymns,
While summer breezes blow apace,
If you will but forgive me, dear,
And let me find a moment’s grace,
In your sweet eyes and your dear face.
R. W. C.