UPON a noon I pilgrimed through
A pasture, mile by mile,
Unto the place where I last saw
My dead Love’s living smile.
And sorrowing I lay me down
Upon the heated sod:
It seemed as if my body pressed
The very ground she trod.
I lay, and thought; and in a trance
She came and stood me by–
The same, even to the marvellous ray
That used to light her eye.
“You draw me, and I come to you,
My faithful one,” she said,
In voice that had the moving tone
It bore in maidenhead.
She said: “‘Tis seven years since I died:
Few now remember me;
My husband clasps another bride;
My children mothers she.
My brethren, sisters, and my friends
Care not to meet my sprite:
Who prized me most I did not know
Till I passed down from sight.”
I said: “My days are lonely here;
I need thy smile alway:
I’ll use this night my ball or blade,
And join thee ere the day.”
A tremor stirred her tender lips,
Which parted to dissuade:
“That cannot be, O friend,” she cried;
“Think, I am but a Shade!
“A Shade but in its mindful ones
By living, me you keep alive,
By dying you slay me.
“In you resides my single power
Of sweet continuance here;
On your fidelity I count
Through many a coming year.”
–I started through me at her plight,
So suddenly confessed:
Dismissing late distaste for life,
I craved its bleak unrest.
“I will not die, my One of all!–
To lengthen out thy days
I’ll guard me from minutest harms
That may invest my ways!”
She smiled and went. Since then she comes
Oft when her birth-moon climbs,
Or at the seasons’ ingresses
Or anniversary times;
But grows my grief. When I surcease,
Through whom alone lives she,
Ceases my Love, her words, her ways,
Never again to be!