The Wind-Harp

A poem by James Russell Lowell

I treasure in secret some long, fine hair
Of tenderest brown, but so inwardly golden
I half used to fancy the sunshine there,
So shy, so shifting, so waywardly rare,
Was only caught for the moment and holden
While I could say Dearest! and kiss it, and then
In pity let go to the summer again.

I twisted this magic in gossamer strings
Over a wind-harp's Delphian hollow;
Then called to the idle breeze that swings
All day in the pine-tops, and clings, and sings
'Mid the musical leaves, and said, 'Oh, follow
The will of those tears that deepen my words,
And fly to my window to waken these chords.'

So they trembled to life, and, doubtfully
Feeling their way to my sense, sang, 'Say whether
They sit all day by the greenwood tree,
The lover and loved, as it wont to be,
When we--' But grief conquered, and all together
They swelled such weird murmur as haunts a shore
Of some planet dispeopled,--'Nevermore!'

Then from deep in the past, as seemed to me,
The strings gathered sorrow and sang forsaken,
'One lover still waits 'neath the greenwood tree,
But 'tis dark,' and they shuddered, 'where lieth she,
Dark and cold! Forever must one be taken?'
But I groaned, 'O harp of all ruth bereft,
This Scripture is sadder,--"the other left"!'

There murmured, as if one strove to speak,
And tears came instead; then the sad tones wandered
And faltered among the uncertain chords
In a troubled doubt between sorrow and words;
At last with themselves they questioned and pondered,
'Hereafter?--who knoweth?' and so they sighed
Down the long steps that lead to silence and died.

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