James Whitcomb Riley (7 October 1849 - 22 July 1916 / Greenfield, Indiana)
Her Beautiful Hands
Your hands--they are strangely fair!
O Fair--for the jewels that sparkle there,--
Fair--for the witchery of the spell
That ivory keys alone can tell;
But when their delicate touches rest
Here in my own do I love them best,
As I clasp with eager, acquisitive spans
My glorious treasure of beautiful hands!
They can coax roses to bloom in the strands
Of your brown tresses; and ribbons will twine,
Under mysterious touches of thine,
Into such knots as entangle the soul
And fetter the heart under such a control
As only the strength of my love understands--
My passionate love for your beautiful hands.
As I remember the first fair touch
Of those beautiful hands that I love so much,
I seem to thrill as I then was thrilled,
Kissing the glove that I found unfilled--
When I met your gaze, and the queenly bow,
As you said to me, laughingly, 'Keep it now!' . . .
And dazed and alone in a dream I stand,
Kissing this ghost of your beautiful hand.
When first I loved, in the long ago,
And held your hand as I told you so--
Pressed and caressed it and gave it a kiss
And said 'I could die for a hand like this!'
Little I dreamed love's fullness yet
Had to ripen when eyes were wet
And prayers were vain in their wild demands
For one warm touch of your beautiful hands.
. . . . . . . . .
Beautiful Hands!--O Beautiful Hands!
Could you reach out of the alien lands
Where you are lingering, and give me, to-night,
Only a touch--were it ever so light--
My heart were soothed, and my weary brain
Would lull itself into rest again;
For there is no solace the world commands
Like the caress of your beautiful hands.
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