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The Revisitation
by [?]

Then I took her hand, and led her
To the ancient people’s stone whereon I had sat. There now sat we;
And together talked, until the first reluctant shyness fled her,
And she spoke confidingly.

“It is JUST as ere we parted!”
Said she, brimming high with joy.–“And when, then, came you here, and why?”
“–Dear, I could not sleep for thinking of our trystings when twin-hearted.”
She responded, “Nor could I.

“There are few things I would rather
Than be wandering at this spirit-hour–lone-lived, my kindred dead –
On this wold of well-known feature I inherit from my father:
Night or day, I have no dread . . .

“O I wonder, wonder whether
Any heartstring bore a signal-thrill between us twain or no? –
Some such influence can, at times, they say, draw severed souls together.”
I said, “Dear, we’ll dream it so.”

Each one’s hand the other’s grasping,
And a mutual forgiveness won, we sank to silent thought,
A large content in us that seemed our rended lives reclasping,
And contracting years to nought.

Till I, maybe overweary
From the lateness, and a wayfaring so full of strain and stress
For one no longer buoyant, to a peak so steep and eery,
Sank to slow unconsciousness . . .

How long I slept I knew not,
But the brief warm summer night had slid when, to my swift surprise,
A red upedging sun, of glory chambered mortals view not,
Was blazing on my eyes,

From the Milton Woods to Dole-Hill
All the spacious landscape lighting, and around about my feet
Flinging tall thin tapering shadows from the meanest mound and mole-hill,
And on trails the ewes had beat.

She was sitting still beside me,
Dozing likewise; and I turned to her, to take her hanging hand;
When, the more regarding, that which like a spectre shook and tried me
In her image then I scanned;

That which Time’s transforming chisel
Had been tooling night and day for twenty years, and tooled too well,
In its rendering of crease where curve was, where was raven, grizzle –
Pits, where peonies once did dwell.

She had wakened, and perceiving
(I surmise) my sigh and shock, my quite involuntary dismay,
Up she started, and–her wasted figure all throughout it heaving –
Said, “Ah, yes: I am THUS by day!

“Can you really wince and wonder
That the sunlight should reveal you such a thing of skin and bone,
As if unaware a Death’s-head must of need lie not far under
Flesh whose years out-count your own?

“Yes: that movement was a warning
Of the worth of man’s devotion!–Yes, Sir, I am OLD,” said she,
“And the thing which should increase love turns it quickly into scorning –
And your new-won heart from me!”

Then she went, ere I could call her,
With the too proud temper ruling that had parted us before,
And I saw her form descend the slopes, and smaller grow and smaller,
Till I caught its course no more . . .

True; I might have dogged her downward;
– But it MAY be (though I know not) that this trick on us of Time
Disconcerted and confused me.–Soon I bent my footsteps townward,
Like to one who had watched a crime.

Well I knew my native weakness,
Well I know it still. I cherished her reproach like physic-wine,
For I saw in that emaciate shape of bitterness and bleakness
A nobler soul than mine.

Did I not return, then, ever? –
Did we meet again?–mend all?–Alas, what greyhead perseveres! –
Soon I got the Route elsewhither.–Since that hour I have seen her never:
Love is lame at fifty years.