My letters! all dead paper, mute and white! And yet they seem alive and quivering Against my tremulous hands which loose the string And let them drop down on my knee tonight. This said—he wished to have me in his sight Once, as a friend: this fixed a day in spring To come and touch my hand. . . a simple thing, Yes I wept for it—this . . . the paper's light. . . Said, Dear, I love thee; and I sank and quailed As if God's future thundered on my past. This said, I am thine—and so its ink has paled With lying at my heart that beat too fast. And this . . . 0 Love, thy words have ill availed If, what this said, I dared repeat at last!
Elizabeth Barrett Browning - 1806-1861
A Musical Instrument
What was he doing, the great god Pan, Down in the reeds by the river? Spreading ruin and scattering ban, Splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat, And breaking the golden lilies afloat With the dragon-fly on the river. He tore out a reed, the great god Pan, From the deep cool bed of the river: The limpid water turbidly ran, And the broken lilies a-dying lay, And the dragon-fly had fled away, Ere he brought it out of the river. High on the shore sat the great god Pan While turbidly flowed the river; And hacked and hewed as a great god can, With his hard bleak steel at the patient reed, Till there was not a sign of the leaf indeed To prove it fresh from the river. He cut it short, did the great god Pan, (How tall it stood in the river!) Then drew the pith, like the heart of a man, Steadily from the outside ring, And notched the poor dry empty thing In holes, as he sat by the river. 'This is the way,' laughed the great god Pan (Laughed while he sat by the river), 'The only way, since gods began To make sweet music, they could succeed.' Then, dropping his mouth to a hole in the reed, He blew in power by the river. Sweet, sweet, sweet, O Pan! Piercing sweet by the river! Blinding sweet, O great god Pan! The sun on the hill forgot to die, And the lilies revived, and the dragon-fly Came back to dream on the river. Yet half a beast is the great god Pan, To laugh as he sits by the river, Making a poet out of a man: The true gods sigh for the cost and pain,— For the reed which grows nevermore again As a reed with the reeds in the river.