I was reading a letter of yours to-day,
The date - O a thousand years ago!
The postmark is there - the month was May:
How, in God's name, did I let you go?
What wonderful things for a girl to say!
And to think that I hadn't the sense to know -
What wonderful things for a man to hear!
O still beloved, O still most dear.
"Duty" I called it, and hugged the word
Close to my side, like a shirt of hair;
You laughed, I remember, laughed like a bird,
And somehow I thought that you didn't care.
Duty! - and Love, with her bosom bare!
No wonder you laughed, as we parted there -
Then your letter came with this last good-by -
And I sat splendidly down to die.
Nor Duty, nor Death, would have aught of me:
"He is Love's," they said, "he cannot be ours;"
And your laugh pursued me o'er land and sea,
And your face like a thousand flowers.
"Tis her gown!" I said to each rustling tree,
"She is coming!" I said to the whispered showers;
But you came not again, and this letter of yours
Is all that endures - all that endures.
These aching words - in your swift firm hand,
That stirs me still as the day we met - -
That now 'tis too late to understand,
Say "hers is the face you shall ne'er forget;"
That, though Space and Time be as shifting sand,
We can never part - we are meeting yet.
This song, beloved, where'er you be,
Your heart shall hear and shall answer me.