I walked to-day, in the grassy dell,
Where the cunning ground-bird hides her nest,
And just where the plum-tree's shadow fell,
I sat me down for a while to rest.
And a robin came, and sat in the tree,
And told a long-lost tale to me.
Of a maiden, pure as the morning light,
And fresh as a white rose, bathed in dew.
Of a youth with eyes like a stormy night,
And a heart that nothing of candor knew.
And all through the valley, green and fair,
The youth and the maiden wandered there.
He plucked the violets, blue and pale,
The lily white, and the roses red,
With every flower that decked the vale--
But the maid was fairest of all, he said.
And the robin saw him kiss her cheek,
And the maiden blushed, but did not speak.
And he held her hand, in a lover's way,
And he saw the blush that his glance awoke,
And with eye, and tone, he seemed to say
The words that his false lips never spoke.
And of her strength, and her life a part,
Was the love that grew in the maiden's heart.
But the summer died, and the autumn came,
And the maiden walked in the vale alone;
And the hopeless love, like a scorching flame,
Burned out her life, but she made no moan.
And she drooped, and died, as the year grew old,
And this was the tale that the robin told.
Shells by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Milwaukee: Hauser & Storey, 1873.
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