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Maurine – Part 3 [One Golden Twelfth-Part Of A Checkered Year]
by [?]


One golden twelfth-part of a checkered year;
One summer month, of sunlight, moonlight, mirth,
With not a hint of shadows lurking near,
Or storm-clouds brewing.

‘Twas a royal day:
Voluptuous July held her lover, Earth,
With her warm arms, upon her glowing breast,
And twined herself about him, as he lay
Smiling and panting in his dream-stirred rest.
She bound him with her limbs of perfect grace,
And hid him with her trailing robe of green,
And wound him in her long hair’s shimmering sheen,
And rained her ardent kisses on his face.
Through the glad glory of the summer land
Helen and I went wandering, hand in hand.
In winding paths, hard by the ripe wheat-field,
White with the promise of a bounteous yield,
Across the late shorn meadow–down the hill,
Red with the tiger-lily blossoms, till
We stood upon the borders of the lake,
That like a pretty, placid infant, slept
Low at its base: and little ripples crept
Along its surface, just as dimples chase
Each other o’er an infant’s sleeping face.
Helen in idle hours had learned to make
A thousand pretty, feminine knick-knacks:
For brackets, ottomans, and toilet stands –
Labour just suited to her dainty hands.
That morning she had been at work in wax,
Moulding a wreath of flowers for my room, –
Taking her patterns from the living blows,
In all their dewy beauty and sweet bloom,
Fresh from my garden. Fuchsia, tulip, rose,
And trailing ivy, grew beneath her touch,
Resembling the living plants as much
As life is copied in the form of death:
These lacking but the perfume, and that, breath.

And now the wreath was all completed, save
The mermaid blossom of all flowerdom,
A water-lily, dripping from the wave.
And ’twas in search of it that we had come
Down to the lake, and wandered on the beach,
To see if any lilies grew in reach.
Some broken stalks, where flowers late had been;
Some buds, with all their beauties folded in,
We found, but not the treasure that we sought.
And then we turned our footsteps to the spot
Where, all impatient of its chain, my boat,
The Swan, rocked, asking to be set afloat.
It was a dainty row-boat–strong, yet light;
Each side a swan was painted snowy white:
A present from my uncle, just before
He sailed, with Death, to that mysterious strand,
Where freighted ships go sailing evermore,
But none return to tell us of the land.
I freed the Swan, and slowly rowed about,
Wherever sea-weeds, grass, or green leaves lifted
Their tips above the water. So we drifted,
While Helen, opposite, leaned idly out
And watched for lilies in the waves below,
And softly crooned some sweet and dreamy air,
That soothed me like a mother’s lullabies.
I dropped the oars, and closed my sun-kissed eyes,
And let the boat go drifting here and there.
Oh, happy day! the last of that brief time
Of thoughtless youth, when all the world seems bright,
Ere that disguised angel men call Woe
Leads the sad heart through valleys dark as night,
Up to the heights exalted and sublime.
On each blest, happy moment, I am fain
To linger long, ere I pass on to pain
And sorrow that succeeded.

From day-dreams,
As golden as the summer noontide’s beams,
I was awakened by a voice that cried:
“Strange ship, ahoy! Fair frigate, whither bound?”
And, starting up, I cast my gaze around,
And saw a sail-boat o’er the water glide
Close to the Swan, like some live thing of grace;
And from it looked the glowing, handsome face
Of Vivian.