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.