BY the slowly flowing river
Lies the old, shadowed walk,
Where the lovers, two and two,
Ere the falling of the dew,
Of the sweetest thing on earth in the soft shadows talk.
For, though honey has a sweetness,
As the tasting palate knows,
Yet young love is sweeter, sure,
Than the honey, pale and pure,
That the brown bee gets from the heart of the rose.
Though there's music in the waters
And the singing of the birds,
Yet a richer music dwells
In the tale each couple tells
In that scene of green enchantment, as they put their hearts in words.
Though they have not throne or sceptre,
They are kings and queens, in truth;
And their realm is all their own,
And they rule in it alone,
For the wonder and the splendour of the world belong to youth.
Neither man nor maid may hasten,
Neither man nor maid may baulk
The river on its way,
As it murmurs, day by day,
By the singing, scented places of the old Lovers' Walk.
There the wattle has its season,
And the lily flames awhile,
And the pink boronia blooms,
And the orchid lights the glooms
Of the deep, green gully and the far forest aisle.
There the wattle fades and withers,
And the lily on its stalk;
But new couples, wreathed and crowned,
Through the seasons round and round
Dream their dreams, link their hands on the old Lovers' Walk.
There they tell the one tale over
And they plight again their troth,
And they bend above the stream
In the sunset's dying gleam;
It might seem the river cares not, yet the river mirrors both.
Oh, how many happy lovers
Has that gleaming river glassed!
Oh, what folk alight with joy,
Dancing girl, and glowing boy,
Youth and Beauty linked together in the dim, sweet past!
Now a frond goes down the current,
Now a flower the eddies turn,
But the lovers never sigh
As they watch them drifting by,
Nor bethink them of the moments that are like to flower and fern.
Yet a hungry sea is calling,
Though a distant sea it be;
And the lovers' golden hours
Are as drifting ferns and flowers,
And a river, not their river, takes them onward to the sea.
Oh, the splendour, and the raptures,
And the hours of rose and rhyme!
Oh, the passion-thirst that sips
At the fount of rosy lips!
Oh, the slowly-moving waters of the river like to Time!
As the fading of the wattle
Or the lily on its stalk,
Or the dewdrop from the grass,
So the glory goes, alas,
From the sweet dreams dreamt on the old Lovers' Walk.