THREE AND ONE

They stray through the sunlit summery weather,
   Two maids and a youth, 'neath skies of blue,
And each of the three as they walk together,
   Is secretly wishing there were but two.

Yet the maidens love each other dearly,
   And both love the youth, if he only knew,
And he loves one as a sweet friend only,
   And the other he loves as lovers do.

And she who is given his heart's best passion,
   Gives back but a fancy, a passing whim,
She loves him only in coquette fashion,
   While the other maid--she would die for him.

And while they wander across the meadows,
   Their three hearts brimming with love's sweet pain,
Fate is sitting back in the shadows,
   Weaving for them a tangled skein.

And she shall weave till the Autumn weather,
   When the threads shall unravel and all come straight;
But well she loveth to knot them together,
   And tangle the ends for a time, doth Fate.

She at whose feet is cast that treasure,
   A man's heart, strong with love's full tide,
Shall use it awhile, as a thing of pleasure,
   Bruise it and break it, and cast it aside.

And she who is loved as a sweet friend only,
   Shall find it bleeding upon the ground,
And being herself so sad and lonely,
   Shall strive through pity to heal the wound.

And after a time when she's hushed its grieving,
   She shall take it, with all its wounds and scars,
And hide it away in her breast, believing
   'Tis the richest treasure under the stars.

But the three walk o'er the sunlit meadows,
   And dream all life is a summer land,
And they pass by One who sits in the shadows,
   And see not the web in her bony hands.

And so we all, while the days are flitting,
   Plan out a future of joys and pains,
And see not Fate in the shadows sitting,
   Knotting and tying her tangled skeins.

The vows we vow, with a fond "forever,"
   The pledge we deem there can naught befall,
Fate with a touch of her hand can sever;
   Ah me! it is folly to plan at all.

Those we love may the soonest fail us,
   We may learn to worship whom now we hate?
And what do our plans and our dreams avail us?
   Better to leave it all with Fate.

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


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