The Phantom of Love.

A poem by Fannie Isabelle Sherrick

She stood by my side with a queenly air,
Her face it was young and proud and fair;
She held my rose in her hands of snow;
It crimsoned her face with a deeper glow;
The sunlight drooped in her eyes of fire
And quickened my heart to a wild desire;
I envied the rose in her hands so fair,
I envied the flowers that gleamed in her hair.

Ah! many a suitor I knew before
Had knelt at her feet in the days of yore;
And many a lover as foolish as I,
Had proudly boasted to win or die.
She had scorned them all with a careless grace
And a woman's scorn on her beautiful face.
Yet now in the summer I knelt at her feet,
And dreamed a dream that was fair and sweet.

The roses drooped in her gold-brown hair,
And quivered and glowed in the sun-lit air;
The jewels gleamed on her hands of snow
And dazzled my eyes with their fitful glow.
A river of gold ran low at our feet,
And echoed the words I cannot repeat.
Oh! life was fair that I loved the sun!
And love was so sweet when the day was done!

The sun in her velvety eyes looked down
And deepened their glow to a warmer brown.
I loved this woman, this woman so fair,
With her sun-lit eyes and her gleaming hair;
I drank in her beauty as men drink wine,--
It filled my soul with a love divine.
The touch of her hand was madness to me;
Oh, my love was as great as love could be!

I kissed the roses that drooped in her hair,
I pressed the dews from her lips so fair;
I held her hands in my own once more;
Oh, never was woman so loved before!
And what did we care that the sun was low,
And the hills were bright with the sunset glow?
The purple that glowed in the skies above,
Was the royal banner of hope and love.

One perfumed breath from her lips so fair,
One sacred kiss on her sun-lit hair,
And then we parted as lovers meet--
I gathered the roses that lay at her feet,
And fastened them in, with a lover's prayer,
Where she loved them best, in her silken hair;
For the things she loved were as dear to me
As the shining stars to the watching sea.

On lake and river, the sun lay low
Where we parted that night in the summer glow
And the hanging clouds were steeped in red,
That rivaled the gold of her sun-crowned head.
And I loved her best as I saw her last.
With the beautiful colors floating past,
And the soft warm light in her velvety eyes,
Reflecting the glow of the sun-kissed skies.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I stood on the shore when the moon hung low
And shone on the clouds like the sun on snow;
And a midnight silence filled the air
As I gazed on the river, calm and fair.
I stood alone where the dark reeds quiver,
And the lilies pale in the night-winds shiver.
I dreamed of my love that was fair as the day,
Oh, the beautiful love that would last for aye!

Oh! what is that--in the river there--
Is it the gleam of the lilies tall and fair,
Or only the branch of some fallen tree,
By the constant wash of the waves set free?
Oh, see! how strange it looks and how white.
How it glistens and gleams in the shining light!
It dazzles my eyes--Oh, what can it be?
It is nearing the shore--it is coming to me!

My God! that my eyes could be blind to-night
To shut out forever that dreadful sight!
Oh, God! am I mad--or can it be
That the woman I loved is thus coming to me?
That bright thing drifting down with the tide,
Is all that is left of my beautiful bride!

Oh, pitiless moon with your pale cold light,
Grow dark for one instant and shut out that sight,
Till my eyes, grown dim with the tears unshed
Shall look no more on the face of my dead.

The pale lilies circle around her head
And whisper slowly--my love is dead.
The dark weeds lie in her tangled hair,
Where I last saw the roses gleaming there.
The cold winds shiver and moan in the night
As they sweep 'round her brow in the shining light.
Oh, God! is it I who am standing alone
Where the night-winds shiver and creep and moan,
Filling my soul with a grief so mad
That I hate the things that are living and glad?

Fear not, my love, you shall welcome be,
For even in death you have come to me.
The dead and the living shall lie to-night.
'Neath the pitiless waves of that river bright.
I grasp her robe as it sweeps me by--
We have lived together, together we die;
Her face is so white--is it a woman I see,
Or only a phantom drifting past me?
Her hand is so near--it touches my own--
My God! it is gone--I am standing alone.

Oh, why did I love when the sun was high,
And the clouds lay piled in the glittering sky!
Oh, why did I love when the sun lay low
And the heavens were red with the blood-red glow!
And why do I live when the purple light
Is faded forever from out of my sight.

Oh, beautiful demon, that men call love,
As fair as the angels that smile above!
'T were better that men should never be born
Than see thy face in the dewy morn.
'T were better that women should stand afar,
And worship in vain some cold, proud star;
Than drink in thy beauty with passionate breath
That brings to them only sorrow and death.

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