Songs with Preludes: Friendship

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Beautiful eyes,—­and shall I see no more
The living thought when it would leap from them,
And play in all its sweetness ’neath their lids?

Here was a man familiar with fair heights
That poets climb.  Upon his peace the tears
And troubles of our race deep inroads made,
Yet life was sweet to him; he kept his heart
At home.  Who saw his wife might well have thought,—­
“God loves this man.  He chose a wife for him,—­
The true one!” O sweet eyes, that seem to live,
I know so much of you, tell me the rest!
Eyes full of fatherhood and tender care
For small, young children.  Is a message here
That you would fain have sent, but had not time?
If such there be, I promise, by long love
And perfect friendship, by all trust that comes
Of understanding, that I will not fail,
No, nor delay to find it.
  O, my heart
Will often pain me as for some strange fault,—­
Some grave defect in nature,—­when I think
How I, delighted, ’neath those olive-trees,
Moved to the music of the tideless main,
While, with sore weeping, in an island home
They laid that much-loved head beneath the sod,
And I did not know.

I stand on the bridge where last we stood
  When young leaves played at their best.
The children called us from yonder wood,
  And rock-doves crooned on the nest.

Ah, yet you call,—­in your gladness call,—­
  And I hear your pattering feet;
It does not matter, matter at all,
  You fatherless children sweet,—­

It does not matter at all to you,
  Young hearts that pleasure besets;
The father sleeps, but the world is new,
  The child of his love forgets.

I too, it may be, before they drop,
  The leaves that flicker to-day,
Ere bountiful gleams make ripe the crop,
  Shall pass from my place away:

Ere yon gray cygnet puts on her white,
  Or snow lies soft on the wold,
Shall shut these eyes on the lovely light,
  And leave the story untold.

Shall I tell it there?  Ah, let that be,
  For the warm pulse beats so high;
To love to-day, and to breathe and see,—­
  To-morrow perhaps to die,—­

Leave it with God.  But this I have known,
  That sorrow is over soon;
Some in dark nights, sore weeping alone,
  Forget by full of the moon.

But if all loved, as the few can love,
  This world would seldom be well;
And who need wish, if he dwells above,
  For a deep, a long death knell.

There are four or five, who, passing this place,
  While they live will name me yet;
And when I am gone will think on my face,
  And feel a kind of regret.

© Jean Ingelow