I–On Christmas Eve
Late on Christmas Eve, in the street alone,
Outside a house, on the pavement-stone,
I sang to her, as we’d sung together
On former eves ere I felt her tether. –
Above the door of green by me
Was she, her casement seen by me;
But she would not heed
What I melodied
In my soul’s sore need –
She would not heed.
And the Seven of the Wain, heard what I said
As I bent me there, and voiced, and fingered
Upon the strings. . . . Long, long I lingered:
Only the curtains hid from her
One whom caprice had bid from her;
But she did not come,
And my heart grew numb
And dull my strum;
She did not come.
II–A Year Later
I skimmed the strings; I sang quite low;
I hoped she would not come or know
That the house next door was the one now dittied,
Not hers, as when I had played unpitied;
– Next door, where dwelt a heart fresh stirred,
My new Love, of good will to me,
Unlike my old Love chill to me,
Who had not cared for my notes when heard:
Yet that old Love came
To the other’s name
As hers were the claim;
Yea, the old Love came
My viol sank mute, my tongue stood still,
I tried to sing on, but vain my will:
I prayed she would guess of the later, and leave me;
She stayed, as though, were she slain by the smart,
She would bear love’s burn for a newer heart.
The tense-drawn moment wrought to bereave me
Of voice, and I turned in a dumb despair
At her finding I’d come to another there.
Sick I withdrew
At love’s grim hue
Ere my last Love knew;
Sick I withdrew.
From an old copy.