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On my finger is a ring
Which I still see glittering
When the night hides everything.

Little sister, thou art pale !

Ah, I have a wandering brain-
But I lose that fever-bale,

And my thoughts grow calm again.
Lean down closer-closer still !
I have words thine ear to fill,
And would kiss thee at my will.

Dear, I heard thee in the spring,

Thee and Robert-through the trees,When we all went gathering

Boughs of May-bloom for the bees.
Do not start so ! think instead
How the sunshine overhead
Seemed to trickle through the shade.

What a day it was, that day!

Hills and vales did openly
Seem to heave and throb away

At the sight of the great sky:
And the silence, as it stood
In the glory's golden flood,
Audibly did bud, and bud.

Through the winding hedgerows green,

How we wandered, I and you, With the bowery tops shut in,

And the gates that showed the view ! How we talked there ! thrushes soft Sang our praises out, or oft Bleatings took them, from the croft :

Till the pleasure grown too strong

Left me muter evermore,
And, the winding road being long,

I walked out of sight, before,
And so, wrapt in musings fond,
Issued (past the wayside pond)
On the meadow-lands beyond.

I sat down beneath the beech

Which leans over to the lane,
And the far sound of your speech

Did not promise any pain ;
And I blessed you full and free,
With a smile stooped tenderly
O’er the May-flowers on my knee.

But the sound grew into word

As the speakers drew more near-
Sweet, forgive me that I heard

What you wished me not to hear,
Do not weep so, do not shake,
Oh,- I heard thee, Bertha, make
Good true answers for my sake.

Yes, and he too ! let him stand

In thy thoughts, untouched by blame. Could he help it, if my hand

He had claimed with hasty claim ? That was wrong perhaps—but then Such things be—and will, again. Women cannot judge for men.

Had he seen thee when he swore

He would love but me alone? Thou wast absent, sent before

To our kin in Sidmouth town.

When he saw thee who art best
Past compare, and loveliest,
He but judged thee as the rest.

Could we blame him with grave words,

Thou and I, De if we might ? Thy brown eyes have looks like birds

Flying straightway to the light: Mine are older.-Hush !- look outUp the street! Is none without ? How the poplar swings about !

And that hour-beneath the beech,

When I listened in a dream,
And he said in his deep speech

That he owed me all esteem,-
Each word swam in on my brain
With a dim dilating pain,
Till it burst with that last strain.

I fell flooded with a dark,

In the silence of a swoon. When I rose, still cold and stark,

There was night; I saw the moon : And the stars, each in its place, And the May-blooms on the grass, Seemed to wonder what I was.

And I walked as if apart

From myself, when I could stand,
And I pitied my own heart,

As if I held it in my hand,
Somewhat coldly, with a sense
Of fulfilled benevolence,
And a “Poor thing” negligence.

And I answered coldly too,

When you met me at the door ; And I only heard the dew

Dripping from me to the floor : And the flowers I bade you see, Were too withered for the bee,As my life, henceforth, for me.

Do not weep so—Dear--heart-warm !
All was best as it befell.
If I say he did me harm,

I speak wild,- I am not well.
All his words were kind and good-
He esteemed me. Only, blood
Runs so faint in womanhood !

Then I always was too grave,

Liked the saddest ballad sung, --
With that look, besides, we have

In our faces, who die young.
I had died, Dear, all the same ;
Life's long, joyous, jostling game
Is too loud for my meek shame.

We are so unlike each other,

Thou and I, that none could guess We were children of one mother,

But for mutual tenderness.
Thou art rose-lined from the cold,
And meant verily to hold
Life's pure pleasures manifold.

I am pale as crocus grows

Close behind a rose-tree's root; Whosoe'er would reach the rose,

Treads the crocus underfoot.

I, like May-bloom on thorn-tree,
Thou, like merry summer-bee,-
Fit, that I be plucked for thee !

Yet who plucks me ?-no one mourns,

I have lived my season out, And now die of my own thorns

Which I could not live without. Sweet, be merry! How the light Comes and goes! If it be night Keep the candles in my sight.

Are there footsteps at the door?

Look out quickly. Yea, or nay? Some one might be waiting for

Some last word that I might say. Nay? So best!-so angels would Stand off clear from deathly road, Not to cross the sight of God.

Colder grow my hands and feet.

When I wear the shroud I made,
Let the folds lie straight and neat,

And the rosemary be spread,
That if any friend should come,
(To see thee, Sweet !) all the room
May be lifted out of gloom.

And, dear Bertha, let me keep

On my hand this little ring, Which at nights, when others sleep,

I can still see glittering.
Let me wear it out of sight,
In the grave,--where it will light
All the dark up, day and night.

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