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ALDARAN, who loved to sing,
  Here lieth dead.
All the glory of the Spring,
All its birds and blossoming,
  Near his still bed,
Cannot waken him again,
Cannot lure to hill and plain
  Aldaran, the singer,
  Who is dead.

Homeward through the early dusk
  Idly he would stray,
Through the woodland dim and still
Harp in hand and heart athrill,
  Singing on his way,–
Singing neath a dark'ning sky
To the birds their lullaby;
To the owls a plaintive note,
Mournful, from his happy throat;
To the brooks, in lighter tone,
Merry music like their own;
To the dreaming fields a tune
Like the wind of afternoon
When it drifts through sunlit spaces
Cooling weary flower faces;
To the wee folk in their beds
Gentle croons for sleepy heads,
And to every timid thing,
Hushed and hidden, he would sing,
Till it crept in wonder sweet,
Fear forgetting, to his feet.
  It was so he charmed them, singing,
  Bird and beast and man,
  Yet no voice can ever waken
  Sleeping Aldaran.

Aldaran, who loved to sing,
  Here lieth still.
Let the bird upon the bough,
Near where he is sleeping now,
  Call if it will.
Never voice of bird or man
Shall awaken Aldaran.
Hushed he lies, whose happy throat
Woke the wood with silver note,
Stirred the slumbering hills, and then
Charmed them all to sleep again.
Hushed he lies, as if content
With the silent way he went,
But the winds come seeking him,
  Through the forest to and fro,
In the twilight strange and dim,
  Calling, calling as they go.
'Must you lie in silence ever,
Gentle Singer?' cries the river.
And the birds from hill to hill,
Seem to wait and listen still.
'Aldaran, O Aldaran,
  Haste thee back, the day is sped!'
So the wind and twilight calleth,
  Wild and wistful, near his bed,–
Aldaran, the Singer,
  Who is dead!'

It was in the purple dusk
  Of a golden day,
Through the woodland that he loved,
  Home he made his way.
Here he lay awhile to dream
  In the forest dim,
And the bank beside the stream
  Was a couch for him;
Kind above him bent the willow,
And the low moss was his pillow,
  And his wall the thicket grim.
One by one, the quiet sky
Lit its candles pure and high
Till their light shone swift and far,
Like a smile, from star to star,
And the wind was like a prayer
Chanted in the silence there.
  It was so, while he lay sleeping,
  Hushed, a weary man,
  Death came through the darkness creeping
  Unto Aldaran.

Like an enemy it came,
  Through the shade it crept,
With a footstep swift and drear,
In the shadows drawing near,
  Softly, while he slept.
Laid a hand upon his eyes,
  That they might not see the Spring,
Laid a seal upon his lips,
  That they might not sing.

Wept the wind, with voice of fear,
'Wake thee, danger lurketh near!'
Cried the flying owl, 'O follow!'
Hurrying through the silent hollow.
And its shadow weird and grey
Seemed to beckon him away.
So they pled with him, the while
In the woodland that he knew,
Aldaran, with fearless smile,
Lay asleep mid flowers and dew.
What to watch or dread had he,
Who had known no enemy?
Yet, from shadow into light,
Flashed a dagger fierce and bright,
Unto shadow drew again,
False and shamed with crimson stain,
And the grasses trembling near
Felt a step that fled in fear.
Never troubled word he spake,
  Never cry of grief or pain,
But in wonder strove to wake,
  Stirred, and sighed, and slept again
Flowers in that piteous place
Bent to screen his paling face,
And the dark, with touch that blest;
Hid the wound upon his breast.
  In the friendly wood that knew him,
  Sweet with fern and flower,
  So it was that Death came to him,
  In his trusting hour.

Aldaran who loved to sing
  Here lieth low,
Not again his heart shall spring,
At the time of blossoming.–
  Ah, who can know?
Still at dusk and break of day
Some can hear him on his way,–
Aldaran, the vanished one,
Walking hidden in the sun,
Moving mistlike by the streams
When the early twilight dreams,
Speeding on his quiet way,
Never seen, by night or day,
But in pity drawing near
To the help of those who fear,
To the beds of those who die,
Singing their last lullaby,
Singing still, when they are far
Where the mist and silence are,
Singing softly still, that they
May not fear the unknown way.
  So to those whose day is sped,
  In the hour lone and dread,
  Cometh Aldaran, the Singer,
  Who is dead.

© Annie Campbell Huestis