We were friends, and the warmest of friends, he and I,
Each glance was a language that broke from the heart,
No cloudlet swept over the realm of the sky,
And beneath it we swore that we never would part.
Our fingers were clasped with the clasp of a friend,
Each bosom rebounded with youthful delight,
We were foremost to honour and strong to defend,
And Heaven, beholding, was charmed at the sight.
Around us the pine-crested mountains were piled,
The sward in the vale was as down to the feet,
The far-rolling woodlands were pathless and wild,
And Nature was garbed in a grandeur complete.
Said he, "We are here side by side and alone,
Let us thus in the shade for a little remain,
For we may not return here ere boyhood is flown,
It may be we never shall meet so again.
Come, friend, and record on this reverend oak
Thy name by my own, they shall stand side by side"
And I hastened to do so with glee as he spoke,
And I gazed on the names with a feeling of pride.
Traced deep on the bark they were goodly to see--
What traced by the finger of Friendship is not?
Together they smiled on the trunk of the tree
And as brothers we stood on that sanctified spot.
But alas for a murmur that swept through the trees,
For the sound was a sound as of something sad,
Like a wail that awakes in a breast ill at ease,
'Twas strange it should be so when all was so glad.
And often since then have I roamed through the vale,
My way have I bent to my favourite tree,
But its branches resound with the self-same wail
Which seems to repeat "Where is he, where is he?"
And again and again have I loved to behold
And fashion the storm-beaten letters anew,
While lingering there as in summers of old,
That spot--it is sweet, it is dear to me too!
Our steps--ah! how fond was our intercourse then--
Like the leaves of the autumn have drifted apart,
And the voices that moan in that overgrown glen
Now melt into weeping the sorrowful heart.