Poems of Sentiment and Imagination/A Letter

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For works with similar titles, see A Letter.


I look upon the young moon in the sky,
And my thoughts image thee! Have you forgot
That which I told you in the sweet "lang syne,"
When I was young enough to dream of faith
Kept for a lifetime sacred? Hollow dream!
Ah, then I told you on a happy hour,
On a night like to this, that while the moon
Brightened and darkened to my living eyes,
There was one image should rise when it rose,
Shine as it shone, and should set darkly never!
That was my heart's first vow. My lips had breathed
Girlhood's "forget-me-not," and "ever-thine,"
To other ears before; but 'twas the strain
The wind awakens passing o'er a lyre—
The natural melody the young heart yields
Even to love's lightest whisper. But there came
At length a master, with the power to thrill
The finest chord in all the spirit's being.
Thou wert the master; and thy hand awoke
All of the slumbering music in my soul—
The strain whose echo lingers in my heart,
Resounding through its labyrinths forever.
But 'tis the echo only that remains;
The strain is still forever, and the chords
Of the soft lyre that thrilled so wildly then,
Would break in shrinking from the very touch
That once made such sweet singing. But 'tis past.
I have been sad and happy many times
Since we together have e'er wept or smiled;
And my heart beats as ever was its wont—
Slowly and pensively—save now and then,
When the desire for love grows suddenly strong,
And all the slumbering lava of the heart
Pours itself through the channels of the blood,
Making thought feverish, and the pulses high.
But this was in my nature, and 'twas this
Pining for love, and pride of intellect,
That made thee seem so godlike in my eyes.
But thou of all thy glory hast been shorn,
And thy great gifts are nothing to the shame
Of the mean sin of falsehood. I forget
The selfish thought that thy deceit wronged me,
In sorrow for the ruin that was wrought
In the most perfect beauty of the soul,
When the vail parted, and I saw untruth
Wedded to bright-browed wisdom.

Let it pass!
Or I shall make a lecture, which I meant not,
For I began by talking of the moon.
Ay, let it pass—it is a lesson more;
And daily we learn something of the world
Which it is well to know, though learning it
We tread on thorns where we saw only roses,
And find an ignis fatuus in a star.