by Alice Cary
I did love thee, Lily Lee,
As the petrel loves the sea,
As the wild bee loves the thyme,
As the poet loves his rhyme,
As the blossom loves the dew --
But the angels loved thee, too!
Once when twilight's dying head
Pressed her saffron-sheeted bed,
And the silent stars drew near,
White and tremulous with fear,
While the night with sullen frown
Strangled the young zephyr down,
Told I all my love to thee,
Hoping, fearing, Lily Lee.
Fluttered then her gentle breast
With a troubled, sweet unrest,
Like a bird too near the net
Which the fowler's hand hath set;
But her mournful eyes the while,
And her spirit-speaking smile,
Told me love could not dispart
Death's pale arrow from her heart.
Hushing from that very day
Passion pleading to have way --
Folding close her little hand,
Watched I with her, till the sand,
Crumbling from beneath her tread,
Lowered her softly to the dead,
Where in peace she waits for me
Sweetest, dearest Lily Lee.
As the chased hart loves the wave,
As blind silence loves the grave,
As the penitent loves prayer,
As pale passion loves despair,
Loved I, and still love I thee,
Angel-stolen Lily Lee.
Boston: Ticknor And Fields