Looking Into The Well

Up in the maples the robins sung,
The winds blew over the locusts high,
And along the path by their boughs o'erhung
We wandered gaily, Lulu and I, —
Wandered along in pleasant talk,
Pausing our nursery tales to tell,
Till we came to the end of the shaded walk
And sat, at last, by the moss-grown well.
She was a child, and so was I:
It mattered not that we told our love, —
Whispered it there, with no one nigh
Save birds that sang in the trees above.
I looked down into her shy blue eyes,
She at my face in the shaded well:
I saw the glow to her fair cheek rise,
Like pink in the heart of an ocean shell.

Again in the trees the robins sung;
The gold had deepened upon her hair:
The locusts over the pathway hung
To look at her face so still and fair.
I said no word: I sat by her side
Contented to hold her hand in mine
Dreaming of love and a fair young bride, —
Visions that truth would have made divine.
The robin's song took a clearer tone,
The sky was a tenderer, deeper blue:
Her face in the limpid waters shone, —
I thought her eyes were holy and true.

I walked alone to the shaded well
When locusts bloomed in the next year's June, —
The shadows along my pathway fell,
The wild birds sang a sorrowful tune.
She had given her shining hair's young gold,
Her holy brow and her eyes of blue,
The form I had scarcely dared to fold,
To a wealthy suitor who came to woo:
Had sold, for jewels and land and name,
Youth and beauty and love and grace, —
Alone I cursed the sin and shame,
And started to see my own dark face
Mirrored there in the well below,
With its haggard cheek and its lines of care,
Where I once had seen a girlish brow
And shy blue eyes and golden hair.

Years have passed since that summer day
Went over the hills with its silent tread:
I walk alone where its glory lay, —
I am lonely, and Lulu is dead.

Dust is thick on her shining hair,
A shroud is folded across her breast,
The winds blow over the locusts where
She lies at last, alone and at rest
Youth and beauty, and love and grace,
Wealth and station, joy and pain, —
If she dream at all in that lonely place,
She will know, at length, that her life was vain.

I do not think of her heart's disgrace,
Looking into the waters there;
For I seem to see once more a face
With shy blue eyes and golden hair.
Out among then she walks by my side —
For me she lives whom the world calls dead, —
I talk at night to my shadow bride,
And pillow in dreams her golden head.
They broke her heart, — so the gossips tell, —
Who sold her hand for wealth and a name;
But I see her face in the cool, deep well,
And its innocent beauty is still the same.
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