WE sat by an open window
And hearkened the sounds outside —
The call of a lonely night-bird,
And the croon of a making tide.
He was an island-trader,
And talked of his sunlit home,
Of the palms and the happy people,
And reef and beach and foam.
All that the trader told me
Was wine to my soul and balm;
And I longed for the moonlit beaches
And the coral and the palm.
He was browned with the sun and weather
(How changed in mood and mien
From the days when the dark-eyed woman
Was throned in his heart a queen!)
He talked of the merry-makers,
Of the flower-crowned native girls;
Their eyes with the lure of midnight,
And their teeth like island pearls.
No word of the dark-eyed woman —
But dance and song and dish,
The white of the branching coral,
The hues of the rainbow fish;
Gossip of sport and battle
For love and faith and truth,
But never a word of the woman
He loved in his careless youth.
The tide on the rocks was crooning
(Sole sound), the bird was still;
And the night lay hot and breathless
On rock and tree and hill.
Two pictures were limned in the darkness —
(And sad, O sad, was the tide!)
A home in a sunlit island,
A grave on a green hillside.