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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,
From some odd corner of the brain.
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 brightSuch eyes! I swear to you, my love,
That these have never lost their light.
I loved, and love dispelled the fear
I loved the brimming wave that swam
The pool beneath it never still,
Made misty with the floating meal.
And oft in ramblings on the wold,
When April nights began to blow,
And full at heart of trembling hope,
The deep brook groaned beneath the mill;
O will she answer if I call?
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
I might have looked a little higher;
"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:
Too fearful that you should not please.
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
A pensive pair, and you were gay
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 trembles at her ear:
And I would be the girdle
About her dainty, dainty waist,
And I should know if it beat right,
And I would be the necklace,
And all day long to fall and rise
With her laughter or her sighs,
A trifle, sweet! which true love spells—
Had force to make me rhyme in youth,
And now those vivid hours are gone,
Like mine own life to me thou art,
Half-angered with my happy lot,
Love that hath us in the net,
Love is hurt with jar and fret.
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!
Yet tears they shed: they had their part