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A Woman's Love Letters

A Woman's Love Letters
Category: Poetry
Title: A Woman's Love Letters
Release Date: 2006-05-08
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 25 March 2019
Count views: 9
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The Fleur de Lis Poets.





Copyright, 1895
New York


A Dream,1
A Song of Dawn,27
A Song of Rest,31
Life's Joys,65

[Pg 1]

A Dream.

I stood far off above the haunts of men
Somewhere, I know not, when the sky was dim
From some worn glory, and the morning hymn
Of the gay oriole echoed from the glen.
Wandering, I felt earth's peace, nor knew I sought
A visioned face, a voice the wind had caught.
I passed the waking things that stirred and gazed,
Thought-bound, and heeded not; the waking flowers
Drank in the morning mist, dawn's tender showers,
[Pg 2]And looked forth for the Day-god who had blazed
His heart away and died at sundown. Far
In the gray west faded a loitering star.
It seemed that I had wandered through long years,
A life of years, still seeking gropingly
A thing I dared not name; now I could see
In the still dawn a hope, in the soft tears
Of the deep-hearted violets a breath
Of kinship, like the herald voice of Death.
Slow moved the morning; where the hill was bare
Woke a reluctant breeze. Dimly I knew
My Day was come. The wind-blown blossoms threw
Their breath about me, and the pine-swept air
Grew to a shape, a mighty, formless thing,
A phantom of the wood's imagining.
[Pg 3]
And as I gazed, spell-bound, it seemed to move
Its tendril limbs, still swaying tremulously
As if in spirit-doubt; then glad and free
Crystalled the being won from waiting grove
Into a human likeness. There he stood,
The vine-browed shape of Nature's mortal mood.
"Now have I found thee, Vision I have sought
These years, unknowing; surely thou art fair
And inly wise, and on thy tasselled hair
Glows Heaven's own light. Passion and fame are naught
To thy clear eyes, O Prince of many lands,—
Grant me thy joy," I cried, and stretched my hands.
No answer but the flourish of the breeze
Through the black pines. Then, slowly, as the wind
[Pg 4]Parts the dense cloud-forms, leaving naught behind
But shapeless vapor, through the budding trees
Drifted some force unseen, and from my sight
Faded my god into the morning light.
Again alone. With wistful, straining eyes
I waited, and the sunshine flecked the bank
Happy with arbutus and violets where I sank
Hearing, near by, a host of melodies,
The rapture of the woodthrush; soft her mood
The love-mate, with such golden numbers woo'd.
He ceased; the fresh moss-odors filled the grove
With a strange sweetness, the dark hemlock boughs
Moved soft, as though they heard the brooklet rouse
To its spring soul, and whisper low of love.
[Pg 5]The white-robed birches stood unbendingly
Like royal maids, in proud expectancy.
Athwart the ramage where the young leaves press
It came to me, ah, call it what you will
Vision or waking dream, I see it still!
Again a form born of the woodland stress
Grew to my gaze, and by some secret sign
Though shadow-hid, I knew the form was thine.
The glancing sunlight made thy ruddy hair
A crown of gold, but on thy spirit-face
There was no smile, only a tender grace
Of love half doubt. Upon thy hand a rare
Wild bird of Paradise perched fearlessly
With radiant plumage and still, lustrous eye.
And as I gazed I saw what I had deemed
A shadow near thy hand, a dusky wing,
A bird like last year's leaves, so dull a thing
Beside its fellow; as the sunshine gleamed
[Pg 6]Each breast showed letters bright as crystalled rain,
The fair bird bore "Delight," the other "Pain."
Then came thy voice: "O Love, wilt have my gift?"
I stretched my glad hands eagerly to grasp
The heaven-blown bird, gold-hued, and longed to clasp
It close and know it mine. Ere I might lift
The shining thing and hold it to my breast
Again I heard thy voice with vague unrest.
"These are twin birds and may not parted be."
Full in thine eyes I gazed, and read therein
The paradox of life, of love, of sin,
As on a night of cloud and mystery
One darting flash makes bright the hidden ways,
And feet tread knowingly though thick the haze.
[Pg 7]
Thy gift, if so I chose,—no other hand
Save thine.—I reached and gathered to my heart
The quivering, sentient things.—Sometimes I start
To know them hidden there.—If I should stand
Idly, some day, and one,—God help me!—breast
A homing breeze,—my brown bird knows its nest.
[Pg 8]


Cam'st thou not nigh to me
In that one glimpse of thee
When thy lips, tremblingly,
Said: "My Beloved."
'Twas but a moment's space,
And in that crowded place
I dared not scan thy face
O! my Beloved.
Yet there may come a time
(Though loving be a crime
Only allowed in rhyme
To us, Beloved),
When safe 'neath sheltering arm
I may, without alarm,
Hear thy lips, close and warm,
Murmur: "Beloved!"
[Pg 9]


I do not know if all the fault be mine,
Or why I may not think of thee and be
At peace with mine own heart. Unceasingly
Grim doubts beset me, bygone words of thine
Take subtle meaning, and I cannot rest
Till all my fears and follies are confessed.
Perhaps the wild wind's questioning has brought
My heart its melancholy, for, alone
In the night stillness, I can hear him moan
In sobbing gusts, as though he vainly sought
Some bygone bliss. Against the dripping pane
In storm-blown torrents beats the driving rain.
[Pg 10]
Nay I will tell thee all, I will not hide
One thought from thee, and if I do thee wrong
So much the more must I be brave and strong
To show my fault. And if thou then shouldst chide
I will accept reproof most willingly
So it but bringeth peace to thee and me.
I dread thy past. Phantoms of other days
Pursue my vision. There are other hands
Which thou hast held, perchance some slender bands
That draw thee still to other woodland ways
Than those which we have known, some blissful hours
I do not share, of love, and June, and flowers.
I dread her most, that woman whom thou knewest
Those years ago,—I cannot bear to think
That she can say: "My lover praised the pink
[Pg 11]Of palm, or ear," "The violets were bluest
In that dear copse," and dream of some fair day
When thou didst while her summer hours away.
I dread them too, those light loves and desires
That lie in the dim shadow of the years;
I fain would cheat myself of all my fears
And, as a child watching warm winter fires,
Dream not of yesterday's black embers, nor
To-morrow's ashes that may strew the floor.
I did not dream of this while thou wert near,
But now the thought that haunts me day by day
Is that the things I love, the tender way
Of mastery, the kisses that are dear
As Heaven's best gifts, to other lips and arms
Owe half their blessedness and all their charms.
[Pg 12]
Tell me that I am wrong, O! Man of men,
Surely it is not hard to comfort me,
Laugh at my fears with dear persistency,
Nay, if thou must, lie to me! There, again,
I hear the rain, and the wind's wailing cry
Stirs with wild life the night's monotony.
[Pg 13]


If I had known
That when the morrow dawned the roses would be dead
I would have filled my hands with blossoms white and red.
If I had known!
If I had known
That I should be to-day deaf to all happy birds
I would have lain for hours to listen to your words.
If I had known!
If I had known
That with the morning light you would be gone for aye
I would have been more kind;—sweet Love had won his way
If I had known.
[Pg 14]


Let us peer forward through the dusk of years
And force the silent future to reveal
Her store of garnered joys; we may not kneel
For ever, and entreat our bliss with tears.
Somewhere on this drear earth the sunshine lies,
Somewhere the air breathes Heaven-blown harmonies.
Some day when you and I have fully learned
Our waiting-lesson, wondering, hand in hand
We shall gaze out upon an unknown land,
Our thoughts and our desires forever turned
From our old griefs, as swallows, home warding,
Sweep ever southward with unwearied wing.
[Pg 15]
We shall fare forth, comrades for evermore.
Though the ill-omened bird Time loves to bear
Has brushed this cheek and left an impress there
I shall be fierce and dauntless as of yore,
Free as a bird o'er the wide world to rove,
And strong and fearless, O my Love, to love.
What have we now? The haunting, vague unrest
Of incompleted measures; and we dream
Vainly, of the Musician and His theme,
How the great Master in a day most blest
Shall strike some mighty chords in harmony,
And make an end, and set the music free!
We snatch from Fate our moments of delight,
Few as, in April hours, the wooing calls
Of orioles, or when the twilight falls
First o'er the forest ere the approach of night
[Pg 16]The eyes of evening;—and Love's song is sung
But once, Dear Heart, but once, and we are young.
Over the seas together, you and I,
'Neath blue Italian
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