A Memory

Barcroft Boake

ADOWN the grass-grown paths we strayed,
                The evening cowslips ope’d
Their yellow eyes to look at her,
                The love-sick lilies moped
With envy that she rather chose
To take a creamy-petalled rose
And lean it ’gainst her ebon hair,
All in that garden fair.

A languid breeze, with stolen scent
                Of box-bloom in his grasp,
Sighed out his longing in her ear,
                And with his dying gasp
Scattered the perfume at her feet
To blend with others not less sweet;
He loved her, but she did not care,
All in that garden fair.

The rose she honoured nodded down,
                His comrades burst with spite:
Poor fool! he knew not he was doomed
                To barely last the night;
Are hearts to her but as that flower,
The plaything of a careless hour,
To lacerate and never spare
All in that garden fair.

I held her hand that I might trace
                Her fortune in its palm;
A bolder moonbeam than the rest
                Crept up and kissed her arm,
And, kissing once, was loth to leave,
So hid himself within the sleeve
That clasped the lithe arm, white and bare,
All in that garden fair.

I traced her fortune: love and wealth,—
                Tho’ life, alas! was short,
But will that wealth be bought with love?
                Or love with wealth be bought?
I know not, knowing only this—
Her hand seemed waiting for a kiss,
I longed to, but I did not dare
All in that garden fair.

But she, alas! is not for me,
                And I am not for her;
Yet ever deep within my thoughts
                A faint regret must stir
A thrill of longing—that among
Those moonlit paths with lover’s tongue
I might return, and woo her there
All in that garden fair.


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