Auf Wiedersehen

A poem by James Russell Lowell


The little gate was reached at last,
Half hid in lilacs down the lane;
She pushed it wide, and, as she past,
A wistful look she backward cast,
And said,--'Auf wiedersehen!'

With hand on latch, a vision white
Lingered reluctant, and again
Half doubting if she did aright,
Soft as the dews that fell that night,
She said,--'Auf wiedersehen!'

The lamp's clear gleam flits up the stair;
I linger in delicious pain;
Ah, in that chamber, whose rich air
To breathe in thought I scarcely dare,
Thinks she,--'Auf wiedersehen?' ...

'Tis thirteen years; once more I press
The turf that silences the lane;
I hear the rustle of her dress,
I smell the lilacs, and--ah, yes,
I hear 'Auf wiedersehen!'

Sweet piece of bashful maiden art!
The English words had seemed too fain,
But these--they drew us heart to heart,
Yet held us tenderly apart;
She said, 'Auf wiedersehen!'



Still thirteen years: 'tis autumn now
On field and hill, in heart and brain;
The naked trees at evening sough;
The leaf to the forsaken bough
Sighs not,--'Auf wiedersehen!'

Two watched yon oriole's pendent dome,
That now is void, and dank with rain,
And one,--oh, hope more frail than foam!
The bird to his deserted home
Sings not,--'Auf wiedersehen!'

The loath gate swings with rusty creak;
Once, parting there, we played at pain:
There came a parting, when the weak
And fading lips essayed to speak
Vainly,--'Auf wiedersehen!'

Somewhere is comfort, somewhere faith,
Though thou in outer dark remain;
One sweet sad voice ennobles death,
And still, for eighteen centuries saith
Softly,--'Auf wiedersehen!'

If earth another grave must bear,
Yet heaven hath won a sweeter strain,
And something whispers my despair,
That, from an orient chamber there,
Floats down, 'Auf wiedersehen!'

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