Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Poem.

Enjoy this? Share it!

Love’s Ordeal
by [?]

A recollection and attempted completion of a prose fragment read in childhood.

“Know’st thou that sound upon the window pane?”
Said the youth quietly, as outstretched he lay,
Where for an hour outstretched he had lain,
Pillowed upon her knees. To him did say
The thoughtful maiden: “It is but the rain
That hath been gathering in the West all day;
Be still, my dearest, let my eyes yet rest
Awhile upon thy face so calm and blest.”

“Know’st thou that sound, from silence slowly wrought?”
Said the youth, and his eyelids softly rose,
Revealing to her eyes the depths of thought
That lay beneath her in a still repose.
“I know it,” said the maiden; “it is nought
But the loud wintry wind that ever blows,
Swinging the great arms of the dreary pines,
Which each with others in its pain entwines.”

“Hear’st thou the baying of my hounds?” said he;
“Draw back the lattice-bar and let them in.”
Through a cloud-rift the light fell noiselessly
Upon the cottage floor; and, gaunt and thin,
Leaped in the stag-hounds, bounding as in glee,
Shaking the rain-drops from their shaggy skin;
And as the maiden closed the spattered glass,
A shadow faint over the floor did pass.

The youth, half-raised, was leaning on his hand;
And when again beside him sat the maid,
His eyes for a slow minute moving scanned
Her calm peace-lighted face; and then he said,
Monotonous, like solemn-read command:
“For love is of the earth, earthy, and laid
Down lifeless in its mother’s womb at last.”
The strange sound through the great pine-branches passed.

Again a shadow as it were of glass,
Over the moonbeams on the cottage floor,
Shapeless and dim, almost unseen, doth pass;
A mingled sound of rain-drops at the door,
But not a sound upon the window was.
A look of sorrowing doubt the youth’s face wore;
And the two hounds half-rose, and gazed at him,
Eyeing his countenance by the taper dim.

Now nothing of these things the maiden noted,
But turned her face with half-reproachful look,
As doubting whether he the words had quoted
Out of some evil, earth-begotten book;
Or upward from his spirit’s depths had floated
Those words like bubbles in a low dead brook;
But his eyes seemed to question,–Yea or No;
And so the maiden answered: “‘Tis not so;

“Love is of heaven, and heavenly.” A faint smile
Parted his lips, as a thought unexpressed
Were speaking in his heart; and for a while
He gently laid his head upon her breast;
His thought, a bark that by a sunny isle
At length hath found the haven of its rest,
Yet must not long remain, but forward go:
He lifted up his head, and answered: “No–

“Maiden, I have loved other maidens.” Pale
Her red lips grew. “I loved them; yes, but they,
One after one, in trial’s hour did fail;
For after sunset, clouds again are grey.”
A sudden light flashed through the silken veil
That drooping hid her eyes; and then there lay
A stillness on her face, waiting; and then
The little clock rung out the hour of ten.

Moaning again the great pine-branches bow,
As if they tried in vain the wind to stem.
Still looking in her eyes, the youth said–“Thou
Art not more beautiful than some of them;
But more of earnestness is on thy brow;
Thine eyes are beaming like some dark-bright gem
That pours from hidden heart upon the night
The rays it gathered from the noon-day light.