She sits in the winter gloaming
   And reads by the waning light
The tender words of her lover
   From the page of creamy white;
And over her cheek, like sunbeams
   Over the morning skies,
The blushes of virgin passion
   Billow, and break, and rise.

She dreams of a summer coming;
   Of a fragrant summer night;
Of a wreath of orange blossoms,
   And a trailing robe of white;
Of lingering, passionate kisses--
   Of music, bells and mirth,
And the light of joys celestial
   Upon the green-clad earth.

O happy twilight muser,
   O heart like a fluttering dove,
Dream on in the winter gloaming
   Your bright, brief dream of love.
Dream out the blissful romance
   Your young life cannot know,
For never the kiss of bridegroom
   Shall fall on that brow of snow.

Dream on of a summer coming,
   O young heart fond and true,
But the arms of a ghostly lover
   Are reaching out for you.
He is drawing nearer, nearer,
   With a robe that you must wear,
And a cluster of white tube-roses
   To place in your auburn hair.

Never the orange blossoms--
   And the robe is white, but plain,
With never a flounce or ruffle,
   And no long, queenly train.
And the bells will be tolling, tolling,
   And there will be gloom and tears,
And only the sounds of sorrow,
   When the bridegroom Death appears.

But dream out your dream, my maiden;
   You have the sweetest part,
And death shall come and claim you,
   Ere sorrow strikes your heart.
Better the pale tube-roses,
   And the robe with never a fold,
Than the faded orange blossoms,
   Trampled, and stained, and old,

Better the fair young maiden,
   Buried in all her bloom,
Than the life of a hopeless woman,
   With her heart in a living tomb.
Better to read the prologue,
   And never another page,
Than to wait and finish the story,
   In a querulous, bleak old age.

So dream in the winter twilight;
   You have the sweetness now;
And the bridegroom Death shall claim you
   Ere sorrow marks your brow.

Maurine by Ella Wheeler
Milwaukee: Cramer, Aikens & Cramer, 1876.

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