My Beautiful Lady.
- I LOVE my lady; she is very fair;
Her brow is white, and bound by simple hair;
- Her spirit sits aloof, and high,
Altho’ it looks thro’ her soft eye
Sweetly and tenderly.
- As a young forest, when the wind drives thro’,
My life is stirred when she breaks on my view.
- Altho’ her beauty has such power,
Her soul is like the simple flower
Trembling beneath a shower.
- As bliss of saints, when dreaming of large wings,
The bloom around her fancied presence flings,
- I feast and wile her absence, by
Pressing her choice hand passionately—
Imagining her sigh.
- My lady’s voice, altho’ so very mild,
Maketh me feel as strong wine would a child;
- My lady’s touch, however slight,
Moves all my senses with its might,
Like to a sudden fright.
- A hawk poised high in air, whose nerved wing-tips
Tremble with might suppressed, before he dips,—
- In vigilance, not more intense
Than I; when her word’s gentle sense
Makes full-eyed my suspense.
- Her mention of a thing—august or poor,
Makes it seem nobler than it was before:
- As where the sun strikes, life will gush,
And what is pale receive a flush,
Rich hues—a richer blush.
- My lady’s name, if I hear strangers use,—
Not meaning her—seems like a lax misuse.
- I love none by my lady’s name;
Rose, Maud, or Grace, are all the same,
So blank, so very tame.
- My lady walks as I have seen a swan
Swim thro’ the water just where the sun shone.
- There ends of willow branches ride,
Quivering with the current’s glide,
By the deep river-side.
- Whene’er she moves there are fresh beauties stirred;
As the sunned bosom of a humming-bird
- At each pant shows some fiery hue,
Burns gold, intensest green or blue:
The same, yet ever new.
- What time she walketh under flowering May,
I am quite sure the scented blossoms say,
- “O lady with the sunlit hair!
“Stay, and drink our odorous air—
“The incense that we bear:
- “Your beauty, lady, we would ever shade;
“Being near you, our sweetness might not fade.”
- If trees could be broken-hearted,
I am sure that the green sap smarted,
When my lady parted.
- This is why I thought weeds were beautiful;—
Because one day I saw my lady pull
- Some weeds up near a little brook,
Which home most carefully she took,
Then shut them in a book.
- A deer when startled by the stealthy ounce,—
A bird escaping from the falcon’s trounce,
- Feels his heart swell as mine, when she
Stands statelier, expecting me,
Than tall white lilies be.
- The first white flutter of her robe to trace,
Where binds and perfumed jasmine interlace,
- Expands my gaze triumphantly:
Even such his gaze, who sees on high
His flag, for victory.
- We wander forth unconsciously, because
The azure beauty of the evening draws:
- When sober hues pervade the ground,
And life in one vast hush seems drowned,
Air stirs so little sound.
- We thread a copse where frequent bramble spray
With loose obtrusion from the side roots stray,
- (Forcing sweet pauses on our walk):
I’ll lift one with my foot, and talk
About its leaves and stalk.
- Or may be that the prickles of some stem
Will hold a prisoner her long garment’s hem;
- To disentangle it I kneel,
Oft wounding more than I can heal;
It makes her laugh, my zeal.
- Then on before a thin-legged robin hops,
Or leaping on a twig, he pertly stops,
- Speaking a few clear notes, till nigh
We draw, when quickly he will fly
Into a bush close by.
- A flock of goldfinches may stop their flight,
And wheeling round a birchen tree alight
- Deep in its glittering leaves, until
They see us, when their swift rise will
Startle a sudden thrill.
- I recollect my lady in a wood,
Keeping her breath and peering—(firm she stood
- Her slim shape balanced on tiptoe—)
Into a nest which lay below,
Leaves shadowing her brow.
- I recollect my lady asking me,
What that sharp tapping in the wood might be?
- I told her blackbirds made it, which,
For slimy morsels they count rich,
Cracked the snail’s curling niche:
- She made no answer. When we reached the stone
Where the shell fragments on the grass were strewn,
- Close to the margin of a rill;
“The air,” she said, “seems damp and chill,
“We’ll go home if you will.”
- “Make not my pathway dull so soon,” I cried,
“See how those vast cloudpiles in sun-glow dyed,
- “Roll out their splendour: while the breeze
“Lifts gold from leaf to leaf, as these
“Ash saplings move at ease.”
- Piercing the silence in our ears, a bird
Threw some notes up just then, and quickly stirred
- The covert birds that startled, sent
Their music thro’ the air; leaves lent
Their rustling and blent,
- Until the whole of the blue warmth was filled
So much with sun and sound, that the air thrilled.
- She gleamed, wrapt in the dying day’s
Glory: altho’ she spoke no praise,
I saw much in her gaze.
- Then, flushed with resolution, I told all;—
The mighty love I bore her,—how would pall
- My very breath of life, if she
For ever breathed not hers with me;—
Could I a cherub be,
- How, idly hoping to enrich her grace,
I would snatch jewels from the orbs of space;—
- Then back thro’ the vague distance beat,
Glowing with joy her smile to meet,
And heap them round her feet.
- Her waist shook to my arm. She bowed her head,
Silent, with hands clasped and arms straightened:
- (Just then we both heard a church bell)
O God! It is not right to tell:
But I remember well
- Each breast swelled with its pleasure, and her whole
Bosom grew heavy with love; the swift roll
- Of new sensations dimmed her eyes,
Half closing them in ecstasies,
Turned full against the skies.
- The rest is gone; it seemed a whirling round—
No pressure of my feet upon the ground:
- But even when parted from her, bright
Showed all; yea, to my throbbing sight
The dark was starred with light.
Last modified 9/23/95