Songs With Preludes: Friendship - Poem by Jean Ingelow
ON A SUN-PORTRAIT OF HER HUSBAND, SENT BY HIS
WIFE TO THEIR FRIEND.
Beautiful eyes,—and shall I see no more
The living thought when it would leap from them,
And play in all its sweetness ’neath their lids?
Here was a man familiar with fair heights
That poets climb. Upon his peace the tears
And troubles of our race deep inroads made,
Yet life was sweet to him; he kept his heart
At home. Who saw his wife might well have thought,—
“God loves this man. He chose a wife for him,—
The true one!” O sweet eyes, that seem to live,
I know so much of you, tell me the rest!
Eyes full of fatherhood and tender care
For small, young children. Is a message here
That you would fain have sent, but had not time?
If such there be, I promise, by long love
And perfect friendship, by all trust that comes
Of understanding, that I will not fail,
No, nor delay to find it.
O, my heart
Will often pain me as for some strange fault,—
Some grave defect in nature,—when I think
How I, delighted, ’neath those olive-trees,
Moved to the music of the tideless main,
While, with sore weeping, in an island home
They laid that much-loved head beneath the sod,
And I did not know.
I stand on the bridge where last we stood
When young leaves played at their best.
The children called us from yonder wood,
And rock-doves crooned on the nest.
Ah, yet you call,—in your gladness call,—
And I hear your pattering feet;
It does not matter, matter at all,
You fatherless children sweet,—
It does not matter at all to you,
Young hearts that pleasure besets;
The father sleeps, but the world is new,
The child of his love forgets.
I too, it may be, before they drop,
The leaves that flicker to-day,
Ere bountiful gleams make ripe the crop,
Shall pass from my place away:
Ere yon gray cygnet puts on her white,
Or snow lies soft on the wold,
Shall shut these eyes on the lovely light,
And leave the story untold.
Shall I tell it there? Ah, let that be,
For the warm pulse beats so high;
To love to-day, and to breathe and see,—
To-morrow perhaps to die,—
Leave it with God. But this I have known,
That sorrow is over soon;
Some in dark nights, sore weeping alone,
Forget by full of the moon.
But if all loved, as the few can love,
This world would seldom be well;
And who need wish, if he dwells above,
For a deep, a long death knell.
There are four or five, who, passing this place,
While they live will name me yet;
And when I am gone will think on my face,
And feel a kind of regret.
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