SOFTLY Death touched her and she passed away
Out of this glad, bright world she made more fair,
Sweet as the apple-blossoms, when in May
The orchards flush, of summer grown aware.
All that fresh delicate beauty gone from sight,
That gentle, gracious presence felt no more!
How must the house be emptied of delight,
What shadows on the threshold she passed o’er!
She loved me. Surely I was grateful, yet
I could not give her back all she gave me, —
Ever I think of it with vain regret,
Musing upon a summer by the sea;
Remembering troops of merry girls who pressed
About me, — clinging arms and tender eyes,
And love, like scent of roses. With the rest
She came to fill my heart with new surprise.
The day I left them all and sailed away,
While o’er the calm sea, ‘neath the soft gray sky
They waved farewell, she followed me, to say
Yet once again her wistful, sweet “good by.”
At the boat’s bow she drooped; her light green dress
Swept o’er the skiff in many a graceful fold,
Her glowing face, bright with a mute caress,
Crowned with her lovely hair of shadowy gold:
And tears she dropped into the crystal brine
For me, unworthy, as we slowly swung
Free of the mooring. Her last look was mine,
Seeking me still the motley crowd among.
O tender memory of the dead I hold
So precious through the fret and change of years
Were I to live till Time itself grew old,
The sad sea would be sadder for those tears.
Come under my cloak, my darling!
Thou little Norwegian main!
Nor wind, nor rain, nor rolling sea
Shall chill or make thee afraid.
Come close, little blue-eyed maiden,
Nestle within my arm;
Thought the lightning leaps and the thunder peals,
We shall be safe from harm.
Swift from the dim horizon
The dark sails scud for the land.
Look, how the rain-cloud drops its fringe
About us on either hand!
And high from our plunging bowsprit
Dashes the cold white spray,
And storm and tumult fill the air
And trouble the summer day.
But thou fearest nothing, darling,
Thought the tempest mutter and brood,
Though the wild wind tosses they bright brown locks,
And flutters thy grass-green snood.
I kiss they wise wide forehead,
While the thunder rolls so grand;
And I hold the curve of they lovely cheek
In the hollow of my hand;
And I watch the sky and the ocean,
And I study they gentle face --
Its lines of sweetness and power,
Thy type of they strong Norse race.
And I wonder what thy life will be,
Thou dear and charming child,
Who hast drifted so far across the world
To a home so lone and wild.
Rude and rough and sad, perhaps;
Anxious and full of toil;
But I think no sorrow or hardship
Thine inner peace can spoil.
For better than kingly fortunes
Is the wealth that thou dost hold --
A nature perfectly balanced,
A beauty of heart untold.
Thou wilt open the door of patience,
When sorry shall come and knock;
But to every evil, unworthy thing
Wilt thou the gates fast lock.
So shall thy day be blessed,
Whatever may be thy lot.
But what I am silently pondering
Thou understandest not,
And liftest to me thy steadfast eyes,
Calm as if heaven looked through.
Do all the maidens in Norway
Have eyes so clear and blue?
See, darling, where, in the distance,
The cloud breaks up in the sky,
And lets a ray of sunshine fall
Where our far-off islands lie!
White they gleam, and the sea grows bright
And silver shines the foam.
A little space, and our anchor drops
In the haven of Love and Home!