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Below the range of stepping stones, And those three chestnuts near, that hung In masses thick with milky cones.

But, Alice, what an hour was that,
When, after roving in the woods,
('Twas April then,) I came and sat
Below the chestnuts, when their buds
Were glistening to the breezy blue;
And on the slope, an absent fool,
I cast me down, nor thought of you,
But angled in the higher pool.

A love-song I had somewhere read,
An echo from a measured strain,
Beat time to nothing in my head

From some odd corner of the brain.

It haunted me, the morning long,

With weary sameness in the rhymes, The phantom of a silent song,

That went and came a thousand times.

Then leapt a trout. In lazy mood
I watched the little circles die;
They past into the level flood,

And there a vision caught my eye;
The reflex of a beauteous form,

A glowing arm, a gleaming neck,
As when a sunbeam wavers warm
Within the dark and dimpled beck.

For you remember, you had set,
That morning, on the casement's edge
A long green box of mignonette,

And you were leaning from the ledge:
And when I raised my eyes, above
They met with two so full and bright-
Such eyes! I swear to you, my love,
That these have never lost their light.

I loved, and love dispelled the fear
That I should die an early death:
For love possessed the atmosphere,
And filled the breast with purer
My mother thought, What ails the boy?
For I was altered, and began
To move about the house with joy,
And with the certain step of man.

I loved the brimming wave that swam
Through quiet meadows round the mill,
The sleepy pool above the dam,

The pool beneath it never still,
The meal-sacks on the whitened floor,
The dark round of the dripping wheel,
The very air about the door

Made misty with the floating meal.

And oft in ramblings on the wold,
When April nights began to blow,
And April's crescent glimmered cold,
I saw the village lights below;
I knew your taper far away,

And full at heart of trembling hope,
From off the wold I came, and lay
Upon the freshly-flowered slope.

The deep brook groaned beneath the mill;
And "by that lamp," I thought, "she sits!"
The white chalk-quarry from the hill

Gleamed to the flying moon by fits.
"O that I were beside her now!
O will she answer if I call?
O would she give me vow for vow,
Sweet Alice, if I told her all?"

Sometimes I saw you sit and spin;
And, in the pauses of the wind,
Sometimes I heard you sing within;

Sometimes your shadow crossed the blind; At last you rose and moved the light, And the long shadow of the chair Flitted across into the night,

And all the casement darkened there.

But when at last I dared to speak,

The lanes, you know, were white with May, Your ripe lips moved not, but your cheek Flushed like the coming of the day; And so it was-half-sly, half-shy, You would, and would not, little one! Although I pleaded tenderly,

And you and I were all alone.

And slowly was my mother brought
To yield consent to my desire:
She wished me happy, but she thought
I might have looked a little higher;
And I was young-too young to wed:
"Yet must I love her for your sake;
Go fetch your Alice here," she said:
Her eyelid quivered as she spake.

And down I went to fetch my bride:
But, Alice, you were ill at ease;
This dress and that by turns you tried,
Too fearful that you should not please.
I loved you better for your fears,

I knew you could not look but well;
And dews, that would have fall'n in tears.
I kissed away before they fell.

I watched the little flutterings,

The doubt my mother would not see;
She spoke at large of many things,
And at the last she spoke of me;
And turning looked upon your face,
As near this door you sat apart,

And rose, and, with a silent grace
Approaching, pressed you heart to heart.

Ah, well—but sing the foolish song
I gave you, Alice, on the day
When, arm in arm, we went along,
A pensive pair, and you were gay
With bridal flowers-that I may seem,
As in the nights of old, to lie
Beside the mill-wheel in the stream,
While those full chestnuts whisper by.

It is the miller's daughter,

And she is grown so dear, so dear,
That I would be the jewel

That trembles at her ear:

For, hid in ringlets day and night,

I'd touch her neck so warm and white.

And I would be the girdle

About her dainty, dainty waist,
And her heart would beat against me
In sorrow and in rest:

And I should know if it beat right,
I'd clasp it round so close and tight.

And I would be the necklace,

And all day long to fall and rise
Upon her balmy bosom,

With her laughter or her sighs,
And I would lie so light, so light,

I scarce should be unclasped at night.

A trifle, sweet! which true love spells-
True love interprets-right alone.
His light upon the letter dwells,

For all the spirit is his own.

So, if I waste words now, in truth

You must blame Love. His early rage

Had force to make me rhyme in youth,
And makes me talk too much in age.

And now those vivid hours are gone,
Like mine own life to me thou art,
Where Past and Present, wound in one,
Do make a garland for the heart:
So sing that other song I made,
Half-angered with my happy lot,
The day, when in the chestnut shade
I found the blue Forget-me-not.

Love that hath us in the net,
Can he pass, and we forget?
Many suns arise and set.

Many a chance the years beget.
Love the gift is Love the debt.
Even so.

Love is hurt with jar and fret.
Love is made a vague regret.
Eyes with idle tears are wet.
Idle habit links us yet.

What is love? for we forget:
Ah, no! no!

Look through mine eyes with thine. True wife,
Round my true heart thine arms entwine;
My other dearer life in life,

Look through my very soul with thine!
Untouched with any shade of years,
May those kind eyes forever dwell!
They have not shed a many tears,
Dear eyes, since first I knew them well.

Yet tears they shed: they had their part

Of sorrow for when time was ripe,

The still affection of the heart

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