The Declaration

A poem by Nathaniel Parker Willis

!’Twas late, and the gay company was gone,
And the light lay soft on the deserted room
From alabaster vases, and a scent
Of orange leaves, and sweet verbena came
Through the unshutter’d window on the air,
And the rich pictures with their dark old tints
Hung like a twilight landscape, and all things
Seem’d hush’d into a slumber. Isabel,
The dark-eyed, spiritual Isabel
Was leaning on her harp, and I had stay’d
To whisper what I could not when the crowd
Hung on her look like worshippers. I knelt,
And with the fervor of a lip unused
To the cool breath of reason, told my love.
There was no answer, and I took the hand
That rested on the strings, and press’d a kiss
Upon it unforbidden, and again
Besought her, that this silent evidence
That I was not indifferent to her heart,
Might have the seal of one sweet syllable.
I kiss’d the small white fingers as I spoke,
And she withdrew them gently, and upraised
Her forehead from its resting place, and look’d
Earnestly on me, She had been asleep

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