Ah, yes, ‘t is sweet still to remember,
Though ’twere less painful to forget;
For while my heart glows like an ember,
Mine eyes with sorrow’s drops are wet,
And, oh, my heart is aching yet.
It is a law of mortal pain
That old wounds, long accounted well,
Beneath the memory’s potent spell,
Will wake to life and bleed again.
So ‘t is with me; it might be better
If I should turn no look behind,–
If I could curb my heart, and fetter
From reminiscent gaze my mind,
Or let my soul go blind–go blind!
But would I do it if I could?
Nay! ease at such a price were spurned;
For, since my love was once returned,
All that I suffer seemeth good.
I know, I know it is the fashion,
When love has left some heart distressed,
To weight the air with wordful passion;
But I am glad that in my breast
I ever held so dear a guest.
Love does not come at every nod,
Or every voice that calleth “hasten;”
He seeketh out some heart to chasten,
And whips it, wailing, up to God!
Love is no random road wayfarer
Who where he may must sip his glass.
Love is the King, the Purple-Wearer,
Whose guard recks not of tree or grass
To blaze the way that he may pass.
What if my heart be in the blast
That heralds his triumphant way;
Shall I repine, shall I not say:
“Rejoice, my heart, the King has passed!”
In life, each heart holds some sad story–
The saddest ones are never told.
I, too, have dreamed of fame and glory,
And viewed the future bright with gold;
But that is as a tale long told.
Mine eyes have lost their youthful flash,
My cunning hand has lost its art;
I am not old, but in my heart
The ember lies beneath the ash.
I loved! Why not? My heart was youthful,
My mind was filled with healthy thought.
He doubts not whose own self is truthful,
Doubt by dishonesty is taught;
So loved I boldly, fearing naught.
I did not walk this lowly earth;
Mine was a newer, higher sphere,
Where youth was long and life was dear,
And all save love was little worth.
Her likeness! Would that I might limn it,
As Love did, with enduring art;
Nor dust of days nor death may dim it,
Where it lies graven on my heart,
Of this sad fabric of my life a part.
I would that I might paint her now
As I beheld her in that day,
Ere her first bloom had passed away,
And left the lines upon her brow.
A face serene that, beaming brightly,
Disarmed the hot sun’s glances bold.
A foot that kissed the ground so lightly,
He frowned in wrath and deemed her cold,
But loved her still though he was old.
A form where every maiden grace
Bloomed to perfection’s richest flower,–
The statued pose of conscious power,
Like lithe-limbed Dian’s of the chase.
Beneath a brow too fair for frowning,
Like moon-lit deeps that glass the skies
Till all the hosts above seem drowning,
Looked forth her steadfast hazel eyes,
With gaze serene and purely wise.
And over all, her tresses rare,
Which, when, with his desire grown weak,
The Night bent down to kiss her cheek,
Entrapped and held him captive there.
This was Ione; a spirit finer
Ne’er burned to ash its house of clay;
A soul instinct with fire diviner
Ne’er fled athwart the face of day,
And tempted Time with earthly stay.
Her loveliness was not alone
Of face and form and tresses’ hue:
For aye a pure, high soul shone through
Her every act: this was Ione.