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TO E. W.
I KNOW not, Time and Space so intervene,
and pains. I could not paint the scenery of my song, Mindless of one who looked thereon so long;
Who, night and day, on duty's lonely round,
he tough old boatman, half amphibious grown; The muttering witch-wife of the gossip's tale, And the loud straggler levying his black-mail, Old customs, habits, superstitions, fears, All that lies buried under fifty years. To thee, as is most fit, I bring my lay, And, grateful, own the debt I cannot pay.
Over the wooded northern ridge,
Between its houses brown,
The street comes straggling down.
Of gable, roof, and porch,
The sharp horn of the church.
To meet, in ebb and flow,
For sloop and gundelow.
With salt sea-scents along its shores
The heavy hay-boats crawl,
In lazy rise and fall.
Along the gray abutment's wall
The idle shad-net dries;
Sits smoking with closed eyes.
Of waves that chafe and gnaw; You start,
-a skipper's horn is blown To raise the creaking draw. At times a blacksmith's anvil sounds
With slow and sluggard beat, Or stage-coach on its dusty rounds Wakes
up the staring street.
A place for idle eyes and ears,
À cobwebbed nook of dreams; Left by the stream whose waves are years
The stranded village seems.
And there, like other moss and rust,
The native dweller clings, And keeps, in uninquiring trust,
The old, dull round of things.
The fisher drops his patient lines,
The farmer sows his grain,
Instead of railroad-train.
Go where, along the tangled steep
That slopes against the west, The hamlet's buried idlers sleep
In still profounder rest. Throw back the locust's flowery plume,
The birch's pale-green scarf, And break the web of brier and bloom
From name and epitaph.
A simple muster-roll of death,
Of pomp and romance shorn,
Has cheapened and outworn.
pause by one low mound, and part
Upon its headstone traced.
Of fourscore years can say
Who sleeps with common clay.
An exile from the Gascon land
Found refuge here and rest,
Its fairest and its best.
He knelt with her on Sabbath morn,
He worshipped through her eyes,
Stole in her faith's surprise.
Her simple daily life he saw
By homeliest duties tried,
Of fitness justified.
For her his rank aside he laid ;
He took the hue and tone
, and made
To harvest-field or dance
The nameless grace of France.
And she who taught him love not less
From him she loved in turn Caught in her sweet unconsciousness
What love is quick to learn.
Each grew to each in pleased accord,
Nor knew the gazing town
Or he to her looked down.
How sweet, when summer's day was o'er,
His violin's mirth and wail, The walk on pleasant Newbury's shore,
The river's moonlit sail !
Ah ! life is brief, though love be long;
The altar and the bier,
Were both in one short year!
Her rest is quiet on the hill,
Beneath the locust's bloom ; Far off her lover sleeps as still
Within his scutcheoned tomb.
The Gascon lord, the village maid,
In death still clasp their hands; The love that levels rank and grade
Unites their severed lands.
What matter whose the hill-side grave,
Or whose the blazoned stone ? Forever to her western wave
Shall whisper blue Garonne !
O Love !-so hallowing every soil
That gives thy sweet flower room, Wherever, nursed by ease or toil,
The human heart takes bloom!