The Violet-Gatherer (From The Danish Of Oehlenslaeger)

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Pale the moon her light was shedding
  O’er the landscape far and wide;
Calmly bright, all ills undreading,
  Emma wander’d by my side.

Night’s sad birds their harsh notes utter’d,
  Perching low among the trees;
Emma’s milk-white kirtle flutter’d
  Graceful in the rising breeze:

Then, in sweetness more than mortal,
  Sang a voice a plaintive air,
As we pass’d the church’s portal,
  Lo, a ghostly form stood there!

“Emma, come, thy mother’s calling;
  Lone I lie in night and gloom,
Whilst the sun and moon-beams, falling,
  Glance upon my marble tomb.”

Emma star’d upon the figure,—
  Wish’d to speak, but vainly tried,
Press’d my hand with loving vigour,
  Trembled—faulter’d—gasp’d—and died!

Home I bore my luckless maiden,
  Home I bore her in despair;
Chilly blasts, with night-dew laden,
  Rustled through her streaming hair.

Plunging then amid the forest,
  Soon I found the stately tree,
Under which, when heat was sorest,
  She was wont to sit with me.

Down my cheek ran tears in fever,
  While with axe its stem I cut;
Soon it fell, and I with lever
  Roll’d it straight to Emma’s hut.

Kiss’d her oft, and love empassion’d
  Sung a song in wildest tones;
While the oaken boards I fashion’d,
  Doom’d to hide her lovely bones.

Thereupon I sought the bower,
  Where she kept her single hive;
Morning shone on tree and flower,
  All around me look’d alive.

Stung by bees in thousand places,
  Out I took the yellow comb;
Emma, deck’d in all her graces,
  Past my vision seem’d to roam.

Soon of wax I form’d a taper,
  O’er my love it cast its ray,
’Till the night came, clad in vapour,
  When in grave I laid her clay.

Deep below me sank the coffin,
  While my tears fell fast as rain;
Deep it sank, and I, full often,
  Thought to heave it up again.

Soon as e’er the stars, so merry,
  Heaven’s arch next night illum’d,
Sad I sought the cemetery,
  Where my true love lay entomb’d.

Then, in sweetness more than mortal,
  Sang a voice a plaintive lay;
Underneath the church’s portal
  Emma stood in death array.

“Louis! come! thy love is calling;
  Lone I lie in night and gloom,
Whilst the sun and moon beams, falling,
  Glance upon my lowly tomb.”

“Emma! dear!” I cried in gladness,
  “Take me too beneath the sod;
Leave me not to pine in sadness,
  Here on earth’s detested clod.”

“Death should only strike the hoary,
  Yet, my Louis, thou shalt die,
When the stars again in glory,
  Shine upon the midnight sky.”

Tears bedeck’d her long eyelashes,
  While she kiss’d my features wan;
Then, like flame that dies o’er ashes,
  All at once the maid was gone.

Therefore, pluck I painted violets,
  Which shall strew my lifeless clay,
When, to night, the stars have call’d me
  Unto joys that last for aye.

© George Borrow