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'Twas in that island summer where
They spin the morning gossamer,
And weave the evening mist,
That, underneath the hawthorn-tree,
I loved my love, and my love loved me,
And there we lay and kissed,
And saw the happy ships upon the yielding sea.
Soft my heart, and warm his wooing,
What we did seemed, while 'twas doing,
Beautiful and wise;
Wiser, fairer, more in tune,
Than all else in that sweet June,
And sinless as the skies
That warmed the willing earth thro' all the languid noon.
Ah that fatal spell!
Ere the evening fell
I fled away to hide my frightened face,
And cried that I was born,
And sobbed with love and scorn,
And in the darkness sought a darker place,
And blushed, and wept, and blushed, and dared not think of morn.
Day and night, day and night,
And I saw no light,
Night and day, night and day,
And in my woe I lay
And dreamed the dreams they dream who cannot sleep:
My speech was withered, and I could not pray;
My tears were frozen, and I could not weep.
I saw the hawthorn rise
Between me and the skies,
I felt the shadow was from pole to pole,
I felt the leaves were shed,
I felt the birds were dead,
And on the earth I snowed the winter of my soul.
Like to the hare wide eyed,
That with her throbbing side
Pressed to the rock awaits the coming cry,
In my despair I sate
And waited for my fate;
And as the hunted hare returns to die,
And with her latest breath
Regains her native heath,
So, when I heard the feet of destiny
Near and more near, and caught the yelp of death,
Toward the sounding sea,
Toward my hawthorn-tree,
Under the ignorant stars I darkly crept:
'There,' I said, 'they'll find me dead,
Lying within my maidenhead.'
And at my own unwonted voice, I wept;
And for my great heart-ache,
Within a little brake
I lay me weary down and weary slept,
Nor ever oped mine eyes till morn had left the lake.
Her morning bath was o'er,
And on the golden shore
She stood like Flora with her floral train,
And all her track was seen
Among the watery sheen,
That blushed, and wished, and blushing wished again,
And parted still, and closed, with pleasure that had been.
Oh the happy isle,
The universal smile
That met, as love meets love, the smile of day,
And touched and lit delight
Within the common light,
Till all the joy of life was ecstacy,
And morn's wild maids ran each her flowery way,
And shook her dripping locks o'er hill, and dale, and lea!
'At least,' I said, 'my tree is sear and blight,
My tree, my hawthorn-tree!'
With downcast eyes of fear
I drew me near and near,
Dazed with the dewy glory of the hour,
Till under-foot I see
A flower too dear to me:
I pause, and raise my full eyes from the flower,
And lo! my hawthorn-tree!
As a white-limbed may,
In some illumined bay,
Flings round her shining charms in starry rain,
And with her body bright
Dazzles the waters white,
That fall from her fair form, and flee in vain,
Dyed with the dear unutterable sight,
And circle out her beauty thro' the circling main,
So my hawthorn-tree
Stood and seemed to me
The very face that smiled the summer smile:
All lesser light-bearers
Did light their lamps at hers-
She lit her own at heaven's, and looked the while
A purer sweeter sun,
Whence beauty was begun,
And blossomed from her blossoms thro' the blossoming isle.
Then I took heart, and as I looked upon
Her unstained white, I said, 'I am not wholly vile.'
Thus my hawthorn-tree
Was my witness unto me,
And so I answered my impleading sin
Till blossom-time was o'er,
And with the autumn roar
Mine unrebuked accuser entered in,
And I fell down convinced, and strove with shame no more.
Some time after came to me,
An image of the hawthorn-tree,
And bore the old sweet witness; and I heard,
And from among the dead
I lifted up my head,
As one lifts up to hear a little bird,
And finds the night is past and all the east is red.
Small and fair, choice and rare,
Snowy pale with moonlight hair,
My little one blossoms and springs!
Like joy with woe singing to it,
Like love with sorrow to woo it,
So my witty one so my pretty one sings!
And I see the white hawthorn-tree and the bright summer bird singing thro' it,
And my heart is prouder than kings!
While I look on her I seem
Once again in the sweet dream
Of that enchanted day,
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"He Loves And He Rides Away" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 25 Feb. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/35892/he-loves-and-he-rides-away>.