Under the willow, you and I
Walked in the gloaming, when love ran high;
That wild first love, that was almost pain,
That we never on earth can know again.
The winds were soft, and the night was calm;
You held my hand in your throbbing palm.
With the fire of passion your dark eyes glowed,
And the tide of my pulses madly flowed.
You drew me closely against your side--
You asked me softly to be your bride.
I trembled, and flushed, and could not speak,
But you knew my answer, and kissed my cheek.
"When earth has perished, and time is dead,
Our love will still live on," we said.
"It shall have a steady and quenchless ray,
Though youth and strength, and life decay."
The night-bird warbled a song just then;
It sounded to us like a glad amen,
As we built our castles, and made our vows,
Under the willow's drooping boughs.
Under the willows, to and fro
We walked in the gloaming, when love ran low.
The tide had ebbed, the current dried,
And our wild, mad passion had slowly died.
I know not wherefore, but widely apart
We had steadily drifted, heart from heart.
Something invisible came between--
I know not what--it was fate, I ween.
The scales had dropped from our youthful eyes,
And we viewed each other in strange surprise;
And she you deemed an angel before,
You found was a woman--and nothing more.
And the idol I worshiped for gold, alway,
I found was the poorest kind of clay.
And so it perished, at one cold breath,
The passion we said would live through death.
And under the willow again we strayed,
And sundered the vows that once were made.
We felt no sorrow--we knew no woe--
Since love had perished, 'twere better so.
We have dreamt our dream, we have reached the end.
You said so calmly, "farewell, my friend."
The night-bird uttered a wailing cry;
It sounded to me like a last good-bye.
I am glad that we sundered our vows, that night.
My pathway is pleasant, my heart is light.
But I feel, my friend, as the days flow on,
That something of youth from my life is gone.
And never, on earth, can we know again,
That first, mad passion, so near to pain,
When under the willow, you and I
Walked in the gloaming, and love ran high.
Shells by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Milwaukee: Hauser & Storey, 1873.
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