Absence.

A poem by John Clare

"What ails my love, where can he be?
He never broke a vow,
Though twice the clock's reminded me
That he's deceiv'd me now.
Through some bad girl, I well know that,
Poor Peggy's love's forgot:"
Thus sigh'd a lass, as down she sat
On the appointed spot.

The night was gathering dark and deep,
But absent was the swain;
The dews on many a flower did weep,
But Peggy wept in vain:
And every noise that meets her ear,
And fancy of her eye,
Hope instant wipes away the tear,
And paints the shepherd nigh.

"Ah, now he comes, my cheek glows hot,
His dog barks to the sheep!"
Alas, her own dog lay forgot,
Loud whimpering in his sleep.
"He rustles down the wood-path park,
The boughs hung o'er it stirr'd!"--
Alas, her Rover's dreaming bark
Awoke a startled bird.

Again he look'd, and once again
Hop'd she her love should see,
A glimpse of moonlight checq'd the plain--
"Ah, here he comes, 'tis he!"
The trees hung o'er the shady way,
'Twas but a shadow'd oak.
The stock-dove wak'd the mimic lay,
"Ah, there my Henry spoke!"

"Ah, this is he! I know his tread!"
Again her hope's a dream;
Her wandering cows had left their shed,
And jump'd across the stream.
"Ah, then he spoke, 'twas Henry plain!"
She felt she knew not how;
Alas, the clock but told again
That he had broke his vow.

When wearied out, her home she seeks,
Where nought could please her view;
The tear stole silent down her cheeks,
Two rose-leaves in the dew:
Her auburn hair with sweetest grace
That down her temples spread,
The night-breeze wip'd it from her face,
And kiss'd her in his stead.

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