Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/593

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HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SKETCHES.

THE WELL'S SECRET.

 

 

I KNEW it all my boyhood: in a lonesome valley meadow,
Like a dryad's mirror hidden by the wood's dim arches near;
Its eye flashed back the sunshine, and grew dark and sad with shadow;
And I loved its truthful depths where every pebble lay so clear.

I scooped my hand and drank it, and watched the sensate quiver
Of the rippling rings of silver as the beads of crystal fell;
I pressed the richer grasses from its little trickling river.
Till at last I knew, as friends know, every secret of the well.

But one day I stood beside it on a sudden, unexpected,
When the sun had crossed the valley and a shadow hid the place;
And I looked in the dark water—saw my pallid cheek reflected—
And beside it, looking upward, met an evil reptlle face:

Looking upward, furtive, startled at the silent, swift intrusion;
Then it darted toward the grasses, and I saw not where it fled;
But I knew its eyes were on me, and the old-time sweet illusion
Of the pure and perfect symbol I had cherished there was dead.

O, the pain to know the perjury of seeming truth that blesses!