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Theodore Aubanel

(1829-1886 / France)

The Mirror


Oh, long ago she dwelt
In this gay little room
How shall I find my flower
Here where she used to bloom?
O longing, thirsting eyes,
Pursue the dear surprise:
Mirror, thou know'st her well
Work thou some magic spell
And bring her back!

Here, when the morn was bright,
She bathed her lovely face,
Her little hands she bathed,
And clad herself with grace.
Between lips glad with song
Her teeth shone, white and strong:
Mirror, thou know'st her well
Work thou some magic spell
To bring her back!

So innocent, so blithe,
Yet starting at a sound,
She let her long hair's veil
Fall her white shoulders round.
Then from her grandsire's book
Her morning prayer she took:
Mirror, thou know'st her well
Work thou some magic spell
And bring her back!

Ah, there the book leans now,
Against the sacred palm
Open, as when she prayed,
Or read some holy psalm!
Surely I hear her feet
The wind with them is fleet:
Mirror, thou know'st her well
Hast thou no magic spell
To bring her back?

At high mass or at fete
How fair she was to see!
And I, who should have prayed,
O Lord, forgive thou me!
Watched her, as there she knelt;
For prayer her name I spelt:
Mirror, thou know'st her well
Work me some magic spell
And bring her back!

Here leaned she forth to talk;
Here of her tasks she thought;
For God's love and God's poor
Such patient stitches wrought;
Her swift hands to and fro
Before thee used to go:
Mirror, thou know'st her well,
Yet hast no magic spell
To bring her back!

Glad days of foolish chat,
Dear days of love and rhyme,
Season of mirth and dance,
Love's long-lost, golden time,
Bright hair where sunshine lay
The priest's hands sheared away:
Mirror, thou know'st her well
Hast thou, indeed, no spell
To bring her back?

But thou dost rule, O God!
Thy harvest springs from pain;
And fairest blooms are fed
On tears that fall like rain.
O Gatherer divine,
The sweetest flowers are thine!
Mirror, thou know'st her well
Why hast thou not some spell
To bring her back?

The day she went away
Her cheeks were bathed in tears;
The long night she had wept
Past joys and future fears;
But when the convent's door
Had closed, she wept no more:
Mirror, thou know'st her well
I seek thy magic spell
To bring her back.

Under the half-dead vine
To this porch I drew nigh:
'This House to Let,' I read
It hurt me like a cry.
No one awaits me here;
But still my heart draws near:
Mirror, thou know'st her well
Yet thou canst work no spell
To bring her back.

Submitted: Friday, October 12, 2012

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