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The Lady Cecile
by [?]


Sitting alone in the windy tower,
While the waves leap high, or are low at rest,
What does she think of, hour by hour,
With her strange eyes bent on the distant west,
And a fresh white rose on her withered breast,
What does she think of, hour by hour?
The Lady Cecile.

Low under the lattice, day by day,
White homeward sails like swallows come,
But the sad eyes look afar and away,
And the sailors’ songs as they near their home,
No glance may win, for she sitteth dumb,
With her sad eyes looking afar and away,
The Lady Cecile.

Just forty years has she dwelt alone
With an ancient servant, grim and gray,
Sat alone under sun and moon;
But once each year, on the third of June,
She treads the creaking staircase down,
But back in her tower with the dying day,
Is the Lady Cecile.

Beneath the tower of the lonesome hall,
Stone stairs creep down where the slow tide flows,
There, out of a niche in the mouldering wall,
Low leaneth a royal tropical rose:
Who set it there none cares, nor knows,
Long years ago in the mouldering wall,
But the Lady Cecile.

But each third of June as the sun dips low,
She descends the stairs to the water’s verge,
And plucks a rose from the lowest bough
Which the lapping waves almost submerge,
And what forms out of the deep, resurge
To vex her, maybe, with mournful brow,
Knows the Lady Cecile.

Her locks are sown with silver hairs,
And the face they shroud is pale and wan;
Once it was sweet as the rose she wears,
Though the perfect lips wore a proud disdain!
But the rose-face paled by time and pain,
No new springs know, like the flower she wears,
The Lady Cecile.

Why does she set the fresh white rose
So faithfully over her silent breast?
And what her thoughts are nobody knows,
She sits with her secret hid, unguessed,
With her strange eyes bent on the distant west,
So the slow years come, and the slow year goes,
O’er the Lady Cecile.

Forty years! and June the third
Came with a storm–loud the winds did blow–
And up in her tower the lady heard
The deep waves calling her far below;
Wild they leaped and surged, wild the winds did blow,
And, listening alone, she thought she heard
“Cecile! Cecile!”

And, wrapping her cloak round her withered form,
She crept down the stairs of crumbling stone;
Higher and fiercer raged the storm
As she bent and plucked the rose–but one
Had the tempest spared–and the winds did moan,
And she thought that she heard o’er the voice of the storm,
“Cecile! Cecile!”

She placed the rose on her bloodless breast,
And dizzy and faint she reached the tower,
And her strange eyes looked out again on the west,
And a wave dashed up, as she looked from the tower,
Like a hand, and lifted the roots of the flower,
And swept it–carried it out to the west,
From the Lady Cecile.

And like death was her face, when suddenly,
Strangely–a tremulous golden gleam
Pierced the pile of clouds, high-massed and gray,
And the shining, quivering, golden beam
Seemed a bridge of light–a gold highway
Thrown o’er the wild waves of the bay;
And the Lady Cecile

Did eagerly out of her lattice lean
With her glad eyes bent on that bridge gold-bright,
As if some form by her rapt eyes seen,
Were beckoning her down that path of light,
That quivering, shining, led from sight,
Ending afar in the sunset sheen.
And the Lady Cecile

Cried with her lips that erst were dumb
“See! am I not true? your flower I wore,”
And her thin hand eagerly touched the flower,
“He is smiling upon me! yes, love, I come.”
And a pleasant light, like the light of home,
Lit her eyes, and life and pain were o’er
To the Lady Cecile.