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"Si jeunesse savait ?—"
PLUNGE my hand
(An alien touch but dust perceives,
Nought else supposes ;)
For me those fragrant ruins raise
Clear memory of the vanished days
When they were roses.
"If youth but knew!" Ah, "if,” in truth?—
I can recall with what gay youth,
To what light chorus,
Unsobered yet by time or change,
We roamed the many-gabled Grange,
All life before us;
Braved the old clock-tower's dust and damp, To catch the dim Arthurian camp
In misty distance;
Peered at the still-room's sacred stores,
Or rapped at walls for sliding doors
Of feigned existence.
What need had we for thoughts or cares! The hot sun parched the old parterres And "flowerful closes";
We roused the rooks with rounds and glees, Played hide-and-seek behind the trees,— Then plucked these roses.
Louise was one-light, glib Louise,
So freshly freed from school decree
You scarce could stop her;
And Bell, the Beauty, unsurprised
At fallen locks that scandalised
Our dear "Miss Proper" ;-
Shy Ruth, all heart and tenderness,
Who wept-like Chaucer's Prioress,
When Dash was smitten;
Who blushed before the mildest men
Yet waxed a very Corday when
You teased her kitten.
I loved them all. Bell first and best;
Louise the next—for days of jest
Or madcap masking;
And Ruth, I thought,-why, failing these, When my High-Mightiness should please, She'd come for asking.
Louise was grave when last we met ;
Bell's beauty, like a sun, has set;
And Ruth, Heaven bless her,
Ruth that I wooed,—and wooed in vain,—
Has gone where neither grief nor pain
Can now distress her.
A REVERIE SUGGESTED BY THE NAME UPON A PANE
HE then must once have looked, as I
Look now, across the level rye,
Past Church and Manor-house, and seen,
As now I see, the village green,
The bridge, and Walton's river-she
Whose old-world name was "Dorothy."
The swallows must have twittered, too,
Above her head; the roses blew
Below, no doubt,—and, sure, the South
Crept up the wall and kissed her mouth,―
That wistful mouth, which comes to me
Linked with her name of Dorothy.
What was she like? I picture her
Unmeet for uncouth worshipper ;-
Soft,-pensive,-far too subtly graced
To suit the blunt bucolic taste,
Whose crude perception could but see
Ma'am Fine-airs" in "Miss Dorothy."
How not? She loved, maybe, perfume,
Soft textures, lace, a half-lit room ;-
Perchance too candidly preferred
"Clarissa" to a gossip's word ;-
And, for the rest, would seem to be
Or proud, or dull-this Dorothy.
Poor child!—with heart the down-lined nest Of warmest instincts unconfest,
Soft, callow things that vaguely felt
The breeze caress, the sunlight melt,
But yet, by some obscure decree,
Unwinged from birth ;-poor Dorothy!
Not less I dream her mute desire
To acred churl and booby squire,
Now pale, with timorous eyes that filled
At "twice-told tales" of foxes killed ;-
Now trembling when slow tongues grew free
'Twixt sport, and Port-and Dorothy!
'Twas then she'd seek this nook, and find
Its evening landscape balmy-kind,
And here, where still her gentle name
Lives on the old green glass, would frame