Thomas MacDonagh

(1 February 1878 - 3 May 1916 / Cloughjordan / Ireland)

The House In The Wood Beside The Lake - Poem by Thomas MacDonagh

The house in the wood beside the lake
That I once knew well I must know no more
My slow feet other paths must take --
How soon would they reach the old known door!
But now that time is o'er.

The lake is quiet and hush to-day;
The downward heat keeps the water still
And the wind that round me used to play
Ere through elm and oak from the pine-clad hill
I plunged with heart a-thrill.

A time can die as a man can die
And be buried too and buried deep;
But a memory lives though the ages fly--
I know two hearts one memory keep
That cannot die or sleep.

How clear the shadow of every tree--
The oaks and elms in stately line!
The lake is like a silent sea
Of emerald, or an emerald mine,
Till the forest thins to pine.

For the slender pine has never a leaf,
And the sun and the breeze break through at will--
There's a weed that the eddy whirls in a sheaf
In the brown lake's depths, all wet and chill,--
I call it the lake-pine still.

Such idle names we used to give
To the weeds as we passed here in our boat--
We shall pass no more, and they shall live
While others o'er them idly float--
They shall neither hear nor note,

They are things that never hear or see--
Yet once I trusted my heart to all;
I heard my tale from many a tree,--
Thought the lake-pines knew one light foot-fall,
One laugh and one low call.

And perhaps they did, for all the day
They seem like me to be sad and lone;
The current has not come to play
And twist its sheaf; no breeze has blown,
Though yon the sedges moan.

And oft o'er the waters I fondly bowed,
And made belief that I saw there
One face, for my fancy featured a cloud
Or showed me my own more bright and fair--
How vainly now I stare!

Is it vain to think that at some time yet--
Far off, perhaps in a thousand years--
We shall meet again as we have met:
A meeting of olden joy and tears
Which all the more endears.

Perhaps in a house beside a lake
In a wood of elm and oak and beech--
Ah, hope is long! It can wait and wake.
Though the world be dead it can forward reach
And join us each to each.

But I fear the waiting -- God, recall,
Recall, recall Thy fated will!
How can I wait while the slow leaves fall
From the tree of time and I fulfil
My vigil lone and chill?

How can I wait for what is mine?--
Thou didst will it so, and Thou art just--
Oh, give me the life of the water-pine
Till I hear one laugh, one call I trust,
One foot-fall in the dust!

Mine then! Mine now, by changeless fate--
I ask but this with humble soul ;--
But bid me not, O God, to wait
With miser hope's reluctant dole
While wakeful aeons roll!

The time I loved is dead, cold dead;
For it could die, and shall not rise
As I shall from a grosser bed
To wait and watch with hungered eyes
And many a vain surmise.

The sedge and pines are moaning now;
The current comes to twist its sheaf;
The shadow of the isle-tree bough
Is blotted out; and twilight brief
Foreruns long night of grief.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 20, 2010

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