The Seven Times

The dark was thick. A boy he seemed at that time
Who trotted by me with uncertain air;
" I'll tell my tale," he murmured, " for I fancy
A friend goes there? . . ."

Then thus he told. " I reached — 'twas for the first time —
A dwelling. Life was clogged in me with care;
I thought not I should meet an eyesome maiden,
But found one there.

" I entered on the precincts for the second time —
'Twas an adventure fit and fresh and fair —
I slackened in my footsteps at the porchway,
And found her there.

" I rose and travelled thither for the third time,
The hope-hues growing gayer and yet gayer
As I hastened round the boscage of the outskirts,
And found her there.

" I journeyed to the place again the fourth time
(The best and rarest visit of the rare,
As it seemed to me, engrossed about these goings),
And found her there.

" When I bent me to my pilgrimage the fifth time
(Soft-thinking as I journeyed I would dare
A certain word at token of good auspice),
I found her there.

" That landscape did I traverse for the sixth time,
And dreamed on what we purposed to prepare;
I reached a tryst before my journey's end came,
And found her there.

" I went again — long after — aye, the seventh time;
The look of things was sinister and bare
As I caught no customed signal, heard no voice call,
Nor found her there.

" And now I gad the globe — day, night, and any time,
To light upon her hiding unaware,
And, maybe, I shall nigh me to some nymph-niche,
And find her there!"

" But how," said I, " has your so little lifetime
Given roomage for such loving, loss, despair?
A boy so young!" Forthwith I turned my lantern
Upon him there.

His head was white. His small form, fine aforetime,
Was shrunken with old age and battering wear,
An eighty-years long plodder saw I pacing
Beside me there.
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