I Oft have met her slowly wandering
Beside a leafy stream, her locks blown wild,
Her cheeks a hectic flush, more fair than Spring,
As if on her the sumach copse had smiled.
Or I have seen her sitting, tall and brown,
Her gentle eyes with foolish weeping dim,
Beneath a twisted oak from whose red leaves
She wound great drowsy wreaths and east them down;
The west-wind in her hair, that made it swim
Far out behind, deep as the rustling sheaves.
Or in the hill-lands I have often seen
The marvel of her passage; glimpses faint
Of glimmering woods that glanced the hills between,
Like Indian faces, fierce with forest paint.
Or I have met her 'twixt two beechen hills,
Within a dingled valley near a fall,
Held in her nut-brown hand one cardinal flower;
Or wading dimly where the leaf-dammed rills
Went babbling through the wildwood's arrased hall,
Where burned the beech and maples glared their power.
Or I have met her by some ruined mill,
Where trailed the crimson creeper, serpentine,
On fallen leaves that stirred and rustled chill,
And watched her swinging in the wild-grape vine.
While Beauty, sad among the vales and mountains,
More sad than death, or all that death can teach,
Dreamed of decay and stretched appealing arms,
Where splashed the murmur of the forest's fountains;
With all her loveliness did she beseech,
And all the sorrow of her wildwood charms.
Once only in a hollow, girt with trees,
A-dream amid wild asters filled with rain,
I glimpsed her cheeks red-berried by the breeze,
In her dark eyes the night's sidereal stain.
And once upon an orchard's tangled path,
Where all the golden-rod had turned to brown,
Where russets rolled and leaves were sweet of breath,
I have beheld her 'mid her aftermath
Of blossoms standing, in her gypsy gown,
Within her gaze the deeps of life and death.