Path beside the silver waters, flashing in October’s sun—
Walk, by green and golden margins where the sister streamlets run—
Twenty shining springs have vanished, full of flower, and leaf, and bird,
Since the step of Mary Rivers in your lawny dell was heard!
Twenty white-haired Junes have left us—grey with frost and bleak with gale—
Since the hand of her we loved so plucked the blossoms in your dale.
Twenty summers, twenty autumns, from the grand old hills have passed,
With their robes of royal colour, since we saw the darling last.
Morning comes—the blessed morning! and the slow song of the sea,
Like a psalm from radiant altars, floats across a rose-red lea;
Then the fair, strong noonday blossoms, and the reaper seeks the cool
Valley of the moss and myrtle, and the glimmering water-pool.
Noonday flames and evening follows; and the lordly mountains rest
Heads arrayed with tenfold splendour on the rich heart of the West.
Evening walks with moon and music where the higher life has been;
But the face of Mary Rivers there will nevermore be seen.
Ah! when autumn dells are dewy, and the wave is very still,
And that grey ghost called the Twilight passes from the distant hill—
Even in the hallowed nightfall, when the fathers sit and dream,
And the splendid rose of heaven sees a sister in the stream—
Often do I watch the waters gleaming in a starry bay,
Thinking of a bygone beauty, and a season far away;
Musing on the grace that left us in a time of singing rain,
On the lady who will never walk amongst these heaths again.
Four there were, but two were taken; and this darling we deplore,
She was sweetest of the circle—she was dearest of the four!
In the daytime and the dewtime comes the phantom of her face:
None will ever sit where she did—none will ever fill her place.
With the passing of our Mary, like a sunset out of sight,
Passed away our pure first passion—all its life and all its light!
All that made the world a dreamland—all the glory and the glow
Of the fine, fresh, morning feeling vanished twenty years ago.
Girl, whose strange, unearthly beauty haunts us ever in our sleep,
Many griefs have worn our hearts out—we are now too tired to weep!
Time has tried us, years have changed us; but the sweetness shed by you
Falls upon our spirits daily, like divine, immortal dew.
Shining are our thoughts about you—of the blossoms past recall,
You are still the rose of lustre—still the fairest of them all;
In the sleep that brings the garland gathered from the bygone hours,
You are still our Mary Rivers—still the queen of all the flowers.
Let me ask, where none can hear me—When you passed into the shine,
And you heard a great love calling, did you know that it was mine?
In your life of light and music, tell me did you ever see,
Shining in a holy silence, what was as a flame in me?
Ah, my darling! no one saw it. Purer than untrodden dew
Was that first unhappy passion buried in the grave with you.
Bird and leaf will keep the secret—wind and wood will never tell
Men the thing that I have whispered. Mary Rivers, fare you well!
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