My dear wife sits beside the fire
With folded hands and dreaming eyes,
Watching the restless flames aspire,
And rapt in thralling memories.
I mark the fitful firelight fling
Its warm caresses on her brow,
And kiss her hands' unmelting snow,
And glisten on her wedding-ring.
The proud free head that crowns so well
The neck superb, whose outlines glide
Into the bosom's perfect swell
Soft-billowed by its peaceful tide,
The cheek's faint flush, the lip's red glow,
The gracious charm her beauty wears,
Fill my fond eyes with tender tears
As in the days of long ago.
Days long ago, when in her eyes
The only heaven I cared for lay,
When from our thoughtless Paradise
All care and toil dwelt far away;
When Hope in wayward fancies throve,
And rioted in secret sweets,
Beguiled by Passion's dear deceits, -
The mysteries of maiden love.
One year had passed since first my sight
Was gladdened by her girlish charms,
When on a rapturous summer night
I clasped her in possessing arms.
And now ten years have rolled away,
And left such blessings as their dower;
I owe her tenfold at this hour
The love that lit our wedding-day.
For now, vague-hovering o'er her form,
My fancy sees, by love refined,
A warmer and a dearer charm
By wedlock's mystic hands entwined, -
A golden coil of wifely cares
That years have forged, the loving joy
That guards the curly-headed boy
Asleep an hour ago upstairs.
A fair young mother, pure as fair,
A matron heart and virgin soul!
The flickering light that crowns her hair
Seems like a saintly aureole.
A tender sense upon me falls
That joy unmerited is mine,
And in this pleasant twilight shine
My perfect bliss myself appals.
Come back! my darling, strayed so far
Into the realm of fantasy, -
Let thy dear face shine like a star
In love-light beaming over me.
My melting soul is jealous, sweet,
Of thy long silence' drear eclipse;
O kiss me back with living lips,
To life, love, lying at thy feet!