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A Legend Of Brittany
by [?]


PART FIRST

I

Fair as a summer dream was Margaret,
Such dream as in a poet’s soul might start,
Musing of old loves while the moon doth set:
Her hair was not more sunny than her heart,
Though like a natural golden coronet
It circled her dear head with careless art,
Mocking the sunshine, that would fain have lent
To its frank grace a richer ornament.

II

His loved one’s eyes could poet ever speak,
So kind, so dewy, and so deep were hers,– 10
But, while he strives, the choicest phrase, too weak,
Their glad reflection in his spirit blurs;
As one may see a dream dissolve and break
Out of his grasp when he to tell it stirs,
Like that sad Dryad doomed no more to bless
The mortal who revealed her loveliness.

III

She dwelt forever in a region bright,
Peopled with living fancies of her own,
Where naught could come but visions of delight,
Far, far aloof from earth’s eternal moan: 20
A summer cloud thrilled through with rosy light,
Floating beneath the blue sky all alone,
Her spirit wandered by itself, and won
A golden edge from some unsetting sun.

IV

The heart grows richer that its lot is poor,
God blesses want with larger sympathies,
Love enters gladliest at the humble door,
And makes the cot a palace with his eyes;
So Margaret’s heart a softer beauty wore,
And grew in gentleness and patience wise, 30
For she was but a simple herdsman’s child,
A lily chance-sown in the rugged wild.

V

There was no beauty of the wood or field
But she its fragrant bosom-secret knew,
Nor any but to her would freely yield
Some grace that in her soul took root and grew;
Nature to her shone as but now revealed,
All rosy-fresh with innocent morning dew,
And looked into her heart with dim, sweet eyes
That left it full of sylvan memories. 40

VI

Oh, what a face was hers to brighten light,
And give back sunshine with an added glow,
To wile each moment with a fresh delight,
And part of memory’s best contentment grow!
Oh, how her voice, as with an inmate’s right,
Into the strangest heart would welcome go,
And make it sweet, and ready to become
Of white and gracious thoughts the chosen home!

VII

None looked upon her but he straightway thought
Of all the greenest depths of country cheer, 50
And into each one’s heart was freshly brought
What was to him the sweetest time of year,
So was her every look and motion fraught
With out-of-door delights and forest lere;
Not the first violet on a woodland lea
Seemed a more visible gift of Spring than she.

VIII

Is love learned only out of poets’ books?
Is there not somewhat in the dropping flood,
And in the nunneries of silent nooks,
And in the murmured longing of the wood, 60
That could make Margaret dream of lovelorn looks,
And stir a thrilling mystery in her blood
More trembly secret than Aurora’s tear
Shed in the bosom of an eglatere?

IX

Full many a sweet forewarning hath the mind,
Full many a whispering of vague desire,
Ere comes the nature destined to unbind
Its virgin zone, and all its deeps inspire,– 70
Low stirrings in the leaves, before the wind
Wake all the green strings of the forest lyre,
Faint heatings in the calyx, ere the rose
Its warm voluptuous breast doth all unclose.