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To-Night

    BEND low, O dusky Night,
      And give my spirit rest.
      Hold me to your deep breast,
    And put old cares to flight.
    Give back the lost delight
      That once my soul possest,
      When Love was loveliest.
    Bend low, O dusky Night!

    Enfold me in your arms--
      The sole embrace I crave
      Until the embracing grave
    Shield me from life's alarms.
    I dare your subtlest charms;
      Your deepest spell I brave,--
      O, strong to slay or save,
    Enfold me in your arms!

    Louise Chandler Moulton

A Painted Fan

      ROSES and butterflies snared on a fan,
        All that is left of a summer gone by;
      Of swift, bright wings that flashed in the sun,
        And loveliest blossoms that bloomed to die!

      By what subtle spell did you lure them here,
        Fixing a beauty that will not change,--
      Roses whose petals never will fall,
        Bright, swift wings that never will range?

      Had you owned but the skill to snare as well
        The swift-winged hours that came and went,
      To prison the words that in music died,
        And fix with a spell the heart's content,

      Then had you been of magicians the chief;
        And loved and lovers should bless your art,
      If you could but have painted the soul of the thing,--
        Not the rose alone, but the rose's heart!

      Flown are those days with their winged delights,
        As the odor is gone from the summer rose;
      Yet still, whenever I wave my fan,
        The soft, south wind of memory blows.

      Louise Chandler Moulton

    The Shadow Dance

        SHE sees her image in the glass,--
          How fair a thing to gaze upon!
          She lingers while the moments run,
        With happy thoughts that come and pass,

        Like winds across the meadow grass
          When the young June is just begun:
        She sees her image in the glass,--
          How fair a thing to gaze upon!

        What wealth of gold the skies amass!
          How glad are all things 'neath the sun!
          How true the love her love has won!
        She recks not that this hour will pass,--
        She sees her image in the glass.

        Louise Chandler Moulton

      Laus Veneris

          A Picture by Burne Jones

          PALLID with too much longing,
            White with passion and prayer,
          Goddess of love and beauty,
            She sits in the picture there,--

          Sits with her dark eyes seeking
            Something more subtle still
          Than the old delights of loving
            Her measureless days to fill.

          She has loved and been loved so often
            In her long, immortal years,
          That she tires of the worn-out rapture,
            Sickens of hopes and fears.

          No joys or sorrows move her,
            Done with her ancient pride;
          For her head she found too heavy
            The crown she has cast aside.

          Clothed in her scarlet splendor,
            Bright with her glory of hair,
          Sad that she is not mortal,--
            Eternally sad and fair,

          Longing for joys she knows not,
            Athirst with a vain desire,
          There she sits in the picture,
            Daughter of foam and fire.

          Louise Chandler Moulton

        Laura Sleeping

            COME hither and behold this lady's face,
            Who lies asleep, as if strong Death had kissed
            Upon her eyes the kiss none can resist,
            And held her fast in his prolonged embrace!
            See the still lips, which grant no answering grace
            To Love's fond prayers, and the sweet, carven smile,
            Sign of some dream-born joy which did beguile
            The dreaming soul from its fair resting-place!
            So will she look when Death indeed has sway
            O'er her dear loveliness, and holds her fast
            In that last sleep which knows nor night nor day,
            Which hopes no future, contemplates no past;
            So will she look; but now, behold! she wakes--
            Thus, from the Night, Dawn's sunlit beauty breaks.

            Louise Chandler Moulton

          The Last Good-by

            HOW shall we know it is the last good-by?
            The skies will not be darkened in that hour,
            No sudden blight will fall on leaf or flower,
            No single bird will hush its ceaseless cry,
            And you will hold my hands, and smile or sigh
            Just as before. Perchance the sudden tears
            In your dear eyes will answer to my fears;
            But there will come no voice of prophecy,--
            No voice to whisper, "Now, and not again,
            Space for last words, last kisses, and last prayer,
            For all the wild unmitigated pain
            Of those who, parting, clasp hands with despair:"--
            "Who knows?" we say, but doubt and fear remain,
            Would any choose to part thus unaware?

            Louise Chandler Moulton

          Were But My Spirit Loosed Upon The Air

            WERE but my spirit loosed upon the air,--
            By some High Power who could Life's chains unbind,
            Set free to seek what most it longs to find,--
            To no proud Court of Kings would I repair:
            I would but climb, once more, a narrow stair,
            When day was wearing late, and dusk was kind;
            And one should greet me to my failings blind,
            Content so I but shared his twilight there.
            Nay! well I know he waits not as of old,--
            I could not find him in the old-time place,--
            I must pursue him, made by sorrow bold,
            Through worlds unknown, in strange Celestial race,
            Whose mystic round no traveller has told,
            From star to star, until I see his face.

            Louise Chandler Moulton

          We Lay Us Down To Sleep

            WE lay us down to sleep,
              And leave to God the rest:
            Whether to wake and weep
              Or wake no more be best.

            Why vex our souls with care?
              The grave is cool and low,--
            Have we found life so fair
              That we should dread to go?

            We've kissed love's sweet, red lips,
              And left them sweet and red:
            The rose the wild bee sips
              Blooms on when he is dead.

            Some faithful friends we've found;
              But they who love us best,
            When we are underground,
              Will laugh on with the rest.

            No task have we begun
              But other hands can take;
            No work beneath the sun
              For which we need to wake.

            Then hold us fast, sweet Death,
              If so it seemeth best
            To Him who gave us breath
              That we should go to rest.

            We lay us down to sleep;
              Our weary eyes we close;
            Whether to wake and weep,
              Or wake no more, He knows.

            Louise Chandler Moulton

          Louisa M. Alcott: In Memoriam

            AS THE wind at play with a spark
               Of fire that glows through the night;
            As the speed of the soaring lark
               That wings to the sky his flightó
            So swiftly thy soul has sped
               In its upward wonderful way,
            Like the lark when the dawn is red,
               In search of the shining day.

            Thou art not with the frozen dead
               Whom earth in the earth we lay,
            While the bearers softly tread,
               And the mourners kneel and pray;
            From thy semblance, dumb and stark,
               The soul has taken its flightó
            Out of the finite dark,
               Into the infinite Light.

            Louise Chandler Moulton


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