She was the first I loved; but years had gone

She was the first I loved; but years had gone
Since we had parted. Still the very look,
That lent me such enchantment, that I seemed
Raised to a higher being, when she sat
Sweet in her mildness by me, or with light
And flying footstep hastened to my call,
And hung upon my words with such a fond
And all-confiding earnestness, — that look
Still lived in all its light before me, fair
As the fresh dress of nature in the calm,
Unclouded beauty of an April eve,
When the gay twilight ends, and in her full
The white-robed planet overtops the hill,
And now is far in heaven, and rolls her way
In majesty and love, shedding a wave
Of soothing influences on them who sit
Or walk beneath her all-embracing smile,
To the wood-cinctured mountains in their groves
Wrapped as in a dark mantle, to the hills
Swelled to a sphere of fresh-grown turf, the vales
More darkly greened and fairer-flowered, the lakes
Sheeted in crystal purity, and all
The winding brooks and thread-like rills, that lace
The soft and oozy meadows, one calm look,
Silent and yet expressive, one far glance
Of peace and beauty lending. Thus she seemed,
And fairer in my fancy; and where'er
My eye roved in its wandering through dark shades,
Down close embowered dells, where brooklets steal
Their steps o'er glossy pebbles and bright sands, —
Where'er my quick eye wandered, she was still
The spirit of the beauty it beheld,
The living thing that animates the wild,
The nymph of the still waters, and the woods
Uttering unnumbered whisperings of joy
In their soft-rustling leaves, the Deity
That consecrates the valley and the lake
To her peculiar worship, — so her fair
And tranquil features, and her sylph-like form
Wrought in a purer world, and o'er-informed
With the quick life of feeling, — so she filled
Nature with her dear presence, and alone
Adorned the rudest landscape, and embraced
The desert with an atmosphere of love,
And lent my hours of utter solitude
A fellowship of fondest thoughts, too bright
To be aught else than momentary gleams
Of unsubstantial pleasure. So she lived,
Still loved and lovely, in my head and heart,
The image of my fancy, and the charm
That mastered my affections; and the spot
Where I had first beheld her innocent,
And soft, and spotless features, where I heard
The liquid music of her tender voice, —
That home of all my wishes still commands
My spirit to its centre, and I turn,
Wearied and sated, from all other things,
To that, and there find quietness. The charm,
That hangs around the moment and the place
Of our first sudden meeting, lives for ever,
And grows in strength and freshness as in years.
It cannot die, although thy love is gone,
And thou, too, hast forgotten such a thing
As I am has a being. Though thine eye
Lights on another, dearer one, thy lip
Smiles welcome to him, and thy voice is heard
Inviting him to happiness, — though I
Know this, and even have seen thee hand in hand
With one whom I have scorned, as far beneath
The scope of my high musings, as a toy
Fit to be breathed on by the scented breath
Of childish female flattery, as a thing
Thy pure and lifted spirit would have deemed
Unworthy of communion, — though I see
Thy fond eye resting on him, and thy arm
Locked tenderly in his, I will not curse,
Nor wish thee aught of evil. Those dear hours
Shall be thy safety, and the thoughts that dwell
With a redeeming fondness there shall throw
A veil o'er all thy weaker deeds, and quell
All darker feelings, which might rise within
My crushed and wounded bosom. I have lived
Too long for such a heart as mine, and life
Must henceforth be an unprized gift, resigned
When Nature shall recall it, as a load
That I have long cast from me with a wish
To be from earth all free; for if a world
Purer and brighter follows, I would know
How it is pure and beautiful, and be
One of its high inhabitants, and fly
On a quick pinion through its cloudless skies,
And with the gladness of life's newest spring
Would breathe its balm, and wanton round its flowers!
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