Since first I met thee, Dear, and long before
I knew myself beloved, save by the sense
All women have, a shadowy confidence
Half-fear, that feels its bliss nor asks for more,
I have learned new desires, known Love's distress
Sounded the deepest depths of loneliness.
I was a child at heart, and lived alone,
Dreaming my dreams, as children may, at whiles,
Between their hours of play, and Earth's broad smiles
Allured my heart, and ocean's marvellous tone
Woke no strange echoes, and the woods' complain
Made chants sonorous, stirred no thoughts of pain.
And if, sometimes, dear Nature spoke to me
In tones mysterious, I had learned so much
Dwelling beside her daily, that her touch
Made me discerning. Though I might not see
Her purpose nor her meaning, I had part
In the proud throbbing of that mighty heart.
But now the earth has put a tiring-cloth
About her face; even in the mountains' cheer
There is a lack, and in the sea a fear,
The glad, rash sea, whose every mood, if wroth
Or soothing mild, is dear to me as are
Joy's new-born kisses on the lips of Care.
Since I have known thee, Dear, all life has grown
An expectation. As the swelling grain
Trembles to harvesting, and earth in pain
Travails till Spring is born, so felt alone
Is the dumb reaching out of things unborn,
The night's gray promise of the amber morn.
I long to taste my pleasures through thy lips,
To sail with thee o'er foaming waves and feel
Our spirits rise together with the reel
Of waters and the wavering land's eclipse;
To see thy fair hair damp with salt sea-spray
And in thine eyes the wildness of the way.
I long to share my woods with thee, to fly
To some black-hearted forest where the trail
Of mortals lingers not, - to hear the gale.
Sweep round us with a shuddering ecstasy,
To feel, night's tumult passed, the cool soft hand
Of the untroubled dawn move o'er the land.
To swim with thee far out into the bay,
A trembling glitter on the waves, the shore
Glowing with noontide fervor, nevermore
To fear the treacherous depths, though long the way.
Sweet beyond words the sighs that breathe and blow,
The moist salt kisses, and the glad warm glow.
And when the unrest, the vague desires that rush
Over our lives and may not be denied, -
Gone in the tasting, - lure us where the tide
Of men sweeps on, let us forget the hush
Together, and in city madness drain
Our cup of pleasure to its dregs of pain.
Ever I need thee. Incomplete and poor
This life of mine. Yet never dream my soul
Craves the old peace. Till I may have the whole
My joy is my abiding, and what more
Of dreams and waking bliss the Fates allow
Comes as a gift of Love's great overflow.