Little Lake

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WHY dost thou lie in hushed surprise,
Thou little lonely mere?
Did some fair woman wistfully
Gaze in thy mirror clear?

Or are thy waters calm and still
Admiring the blue sky,
Where shining cloudlets, like thy foam,
Are drifting softly by?

Sad little lake, let us be friends!
I too am desolate;
I too would fain, beneath the sky,
In silence meditate.

As many thoughts are in my mind
As wavelets o’er thee roam;
As many wounds are in my heart
As thou hast flakes of foam.

But if heaven’s constellations all
Should drop into thy breast,
Thou still wouldst not be like my soul, —
A flame-sea without rest.

There, when the air and thou are calm,
The clouds let fall no showers;
The stars that rise there do not set,
And fadeless are the flowers.

Thou art my queen, O little lake!
For e’en when ripples thrill
Thy surface, in thy quivering depths
Thou hold’st me, trembling, still.

Full many have rejected me:
“What has he but his lyre?”
“He trembles, and his face is pale;
His life must soon expire!”

None said, “Poor child, why pines he thus?
If he beloved should be,
Haply he might not die, but live, —
Live, and grow fair to see.”

None sought the boy’s sad heart to read,
Nor in its depths to look.
They would have found it was a fire,
And not a printed book!

Nay, ashes now! a memory!
Grow stormy, little mere,
For a despairing man has gazed
Into thy waters clear!