The Poet’s Choice

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'Twas in youth, that hour of dreaming;
Round me, visions fair were beaming,
Golden fancies, brightly gleaming,
Such as start to birth
When the wandering restless mind,
Drunk with beauty, thinks to find
Creatures of a fairy kind
Realised on Earth!

Then, for me, in every dell
Hamadryads seem'd to dwell
(They who die, as Poets tell,
Each with her own tree);
And sweet mermaids, low reclining,
Dim light through their grottos shining,
Green weeds round their soft limbs twinng,
Peopled the deep Sea.

Then, when moon and stars were fair,
Nymph-like visions fill'd the air,
With blue wings and golden hair
Bending from the skies;
And each cave by echo haunted
In its depth of shadow granted,
Brightly, the Egeria wanted,
To my eager eyes.

But those glories pass'd away;
Earth seem'd left to dull decay,
And my heart in sadness lay,
Desolate, uncheer'd;
Like one wrapt in painful sleeping,
Pining, thirsting, waaking, weeping,
Watsh thro' Life's dark midnight keeping,
Till THY form appear'd!

THEN my soul, whose erring measure
Knew not where to find true pleasure
Woke and seized the golden treasure
Of thy human love;
And, looking on thy radiant brow,
My lips in gladness breathed the vow
Which angels, not more fair than thou,
Have register'd above.

And now I take my quiet rest,
With my head upon thy breast,
I will make no fiurther quest
In Fancy's realms of light;
Fay, nor nymph, nor wingēd spirit,
Shall my store of love inherit;
More thy mortal charm doth merit
Than dream, however bright:

And my soul,-like some sweet bird
Whose song at summer eve is heard,
When the breeze, so lightly stirr'd,
Leaves the branch unbent,--
Sits and all-triumphant sings,
Folding up her brooding wings,
And gazing out on earthly things
With a calm content.

© Caroline Norton