I WATCHED your ship as, strong and bright,
She sailed into the gathering night
And sped away;
I saw the sunset colors die,
And gray gloom wrap the evening sky
And veil the day.
I heard the cold waves on the shore
Their pensive sorrow o’er and o’er
In murmurs tell,
While, as the glimmering sea grew dim,
The wind sang low its vesper hymn, —
Farewell! Farewell!
What thoughts of blessing and of prayer
I wafted on the twilight air,
What fancies drear
Possessed my soul, no words could say;
Yet holy angels, listening, may
Its homage hear.
I thought upon your parting word, —
The low, sad whisper, scarcely heard, —
Your angel face ;
And — fadeless flowers in memory’s track —
The happy days, that come not back,
Of Fortune’s grace:
Days when we roved on Avon’s side.
Or lingered by the rushing tide
Of bickering Stour;
Or in the great cathedral strayed,
Where to be worthy still I prayed
Of one so pure.
The sunset mist, the golden town,
When we strolled home from Harbledown;
The merry bands
Of rustic girls, who bore for sign
Of prospered toil the fragrant vine
In tawny hands;
The silent streets, as evening fell,
The minster’s gloom, the solemn bell,
The scented air,
The rooks that thronged the giant trees,
The churchyard stones, and over these
The moonlight fair, —
I felt them all, as though that they
Had been the things of yesterday,
And chill regret
Preyed on my lonely heart, to think
How soon the stars of pleasure sink
And we forget.
The Thames is flowing, broad and free,
'Neath that old bridge of Battersea
Where, veiled in gloom,
Great St. John sleeps, — too sound to wake,
For all the vows that lovers make
Beside his tomb.
The emerald throstle’s silver call
Is heard by Leicester’s haunted hall,
And down the vale
Of Kenilworth the hawthorns wreathe
And roses tremble underneath
The starlight pale.
The winds of night sigh softly through
The needles of St. Martin’s yew,
And round the shrines
Of gray St. Nicholas the lone
And melancholy breezes moan,
And ivy twines.
From those proud cliffs that smile on France
You still might see the moonbeams dance
O’er midnight waves:
Are all the reveries sublime
And holy thoughts of that sweet time
Lost, in their graves ?
Is the light faded, has the ray
Of heaven become the common day,
And from your breast
The careless warder Time let slip
The sense of fond companionship
That was its guest ?
I will not think it, though for me,
By day or night, by land or sea,
Ah, nevermore
Can those exalted moments seem
Like aught but some bewildered dream
Of fairy lore.
I do not think it! Those dear eyes
The light that burns in Paradise
Is shining through,
And all that radiant Woman brought
Of holy faith from God’s high thought
Is shrined in you.
Farewell! Farewell! The sands of gold
Have run their course, the tale is told,
And dark and fast
Night closes round my wandering way;
Yet one most sacred thought will stay
Till life be past.
I know that while we walk this earth,
In shade or shine, in grief or mirth,
While truth endures,
One hope our hearts must still entwine,
And naught can take your place in mine,
Nor mine in yours.
William Winter.