Exmoor Verses

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Over the rim of the Moor,
 And under the starry sky,
Two men came to my door
 And rested them thereby.

Beneath the bough and the star,
 In a whispering foreign tongue,
They talked of a land afar
 And the merry days so young!

Beneath the dawn and the bough
 I heard them arise and go:
And my heart it is aching now
 For the more it will never know.

Why did they two depart
 Before I could understand?
Where lies that land, O my heart?
 -O my heart, where lies that land?


From my farm, from hèr farm
 Furtively we came.
In either home a hearth was warm:
 We nursed a hungrier flame.

Our feet were foul with mire,
 Our faces blind with mist;
But all the night was naked fire
 About us where we kiss'd.

To her farm, to my farm,
 Loathing we returned;
Pale beneath a gallow's arm
 The planet Saturn burned.


O'er the tears that we shed, dear
 The bitter vines twist,
And the hawk and the red deer
 They keep where we kiss'd:
All broken lies the shieling
 That sheltered from rain,
With a star to pierce the ceiling,
 And the dawn an empty pane.

Thro' the mist, up the moorway,
 Fade hunters and pack;
From the ridge to thy doorway
 Happy voices float back…
O, between the threads o' mist, love,
 Reach your hands from the house.
Only mind that we kiss'd, love,
 And forget the broken vows!

© Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch