The Old Story

THE waiting-women wait at her feet,
And the day is fading down to the night,
And close at her pillow, and round and sweet,
The red rose burns like a lamp a-light.
Under and over, the gray mist lops,
And down and down from the mossy eaves,
And down from the sycamore’s long wild leaves,
The slow rain drops and drops and drops.
Ah never had sleeper a sleep so fair ;
And the waiting-women that weep around
Have taken the combs from her golden hair,
And it slideth over her face to the ground.
They have hidden the light from her lovely eyes ;
And down from the eaves where the mosses grow
The rain is dripping, so slow, so slow,
And the night-wind cries and cries and cries.
From her hand they have taken the shining ring,
They have brought the linen her shroud to make ;
O, the lark she was never so loath to sing,
And the morn she was never so loath to awake !
And at their sewing they hear the rain, —
Drip-drop, drip-drop, over the eaves,
And drip-drop over the sycamore-leaves,
As if there would never be sunshine again.
The mourning train to the grave have gone,
And the waiting-women are here and are there,
With birds at the windows and gleams of the sun
Making the chamber of death to be fair.
And under and over the mist unlaps,
And ruby and amethyst burn through the gray,
And driest bushes grow green with spray,
And the dimpled water its glad hands claps.
The leaves of the sycamore dance and wave,
And the mourners put off the mourning shows,
And over the pathway down to the grave
The long grass blows and blows and blows.
And every drip-drop rounds to a flower,
And love in the heart of the young man springs,
And the hands of the maidens shine with rings,
As if all life were a festival hour.