Unheard Melodies

A minstrel came singing in the way;
And the children,
Nothing saying,
Gathered round him,
From their playing,
In a bower of the shadowy may.

He stood in a loop of the green;
And his fingers
On the wires
Feigned their heart's deep,
Hidden desires
For a country that never was seen.

Like moonbeams in forests of trees,
Like brook water
Dropping sweetness,
Like the wild hare
In her fleetness,
Like the wings of the honey-sucking bees;

He drew each pure heart with his skill;
With his beauty,
And his azure,
And his topaz,
Gold for pleasure,
And his locks wet with dew of April.

Time sped; and night's shadows grew deep,
Came owl-hoot
From the thicket,
And the shrill note
Of the cricket
Called the children to silence and sleep. ...

Strange, strange! though the minstrel is gone,
Yet that hawthorn
Fair and lonely
Stoops mutely
Waiting only
Till the clamour of noonday is done —

Until, in the faint skies of eve,
Far and sweetly,
Like a river,
Silver wires seem
Throbbing ever
As if echo in sorrow would grieve

In ears dulled with wrath and rebuke;
And like snowdrops
After winter,
Tired feet pause there,
And then enter
That bower by the midsummer brook.

O minstrel, keep thy tryst, sound thine airs
In a heart that
Oft forgets thee,
Scorns, reviles thee,
Tires, and frets thee
With the burden of silence it bears.
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