An Idyll

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

He was a boy, sun-burned and brown,
And she a girl from a neighboring town:
Dark were her eyes and dark her hair,
And her cheeks as red as the ripe peach there:
Dainty and sweet, with a far-away
Look in her eyes like the skies of May.
And it came to pass one afternoon
She walked in the fields; and the month was June:
In the hay-heaped fields and the meadowland
With trees and hills on either hand.
And the lad, who worked on her father's farm,
Had laid him down all tired and warm.
He had been toiling day after day
Mowing and raking and hilling the hay.
And now at last, with his work well done,
He slept by a stack away from the sun.
And she, who came with her young head full
Of thoughts that never are learned in school,
Young dreams and fancies no girl knows of
Unless she is far on the road to love,
When she saw him there, where he lay and slept,
A little nearer she cautiously stept:
Then stood, big-eyed, and looked around,
As if afraid of the one she'd found;
Of him she knew not, who seemed to take
Her heart in a hold she could not break.
He looked so tired and young and hot,
That an impulse swept her, she scarce knew what:
Primitive, wild, that would not wait,
That cried in her blood, "There lies your mate!"
And all was still, save the cricket's shrill,
And the breeze that blew from the wooded hill.
And so she stood with a foot back-drawn,
Like a Nymph that comes on a sleeping Faun:
Then stooped and kissed him, and turned and fled,
Sobbing, her heart of itself adread.
But he who lay in the hay slept on,
And never knew what had come and gone:
The love that had bent to his life and kissed
That something, called fate, which each has missed.

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