In these rapid, restless shadows, Once I walked at eventide, When a gentle, silent maiden, Walked in beauty at my side She alone there walked beside me All in beauty, like a bride. Pallidly the moon was shining On the dewy meadows nigh; On the silvery, silent rivers, On the mountains far and high On the ocean’s star-lit waters, Where the winds a-weary die. Slowly, silently we wandered From the open cottage door, Underneath the elm’s long branches To the pavement bending o’er; Underneath the mossy willow And the dying sycamore. With the myriad stars in beauty All bedight, the heavens were seen, Radiant hopes were bright around me, Like the light of stars serene; Like the mellow midnight splendor Of the Night’s irradiate queen. Audibly the elm-leaves whispered Peaceful, pleasant melodies, Like the distant murmured music Of unquiet, lovely seas: While the winds were hushed in slumber In the fragrant flowers and trees. Wondrous and unwonted beauty Still adorning all did seem, While I told my love in fables ‘Neath the willows by the stream; Would the heart have kept unspoken Love that was its rarest dream! Instantly away we wandered In the shadowy twilight tide, She, the silent, scornful maiden, Walking calmly at my side, With a step serene and stately, All in beauty, all in pride. Vacantly I walked beside her. On the earth mine eyes were cast; Swift and keen there came unto me Ritter memories of the past On me, like the rain in Autumn On the dead leaves, cold and fast. Underneath the elms we parted, By the lowly cottage door; One brief word alone was uttered Never on our lips before; And away I walked forlornly, Broken-hearted evermore. Slowly, silently I loitered, Homeward, in the night, alone; Sudden anguish bound my spirit, That my youth had never known; Wild unrest, like that which cometh When the Night’s first dream hath flown. Now, to me the elm-leaves whisper Mad, discordant melodies, And keen melodies like shadows Haunt the moaning willow trees, And the sycamores with laughter Mock me in the nightly breeze. Sad and pale the Autumn moonlight Through the sighing foliage streams; And each morning, midnight shadow, Shadow of my sorrow seems; Strive, 0 heart, forget thine idol! And, 0 soul, forget thy dreams!
This poem is in the public domain.