Edmund Clarence Stedman



A Vigil

by Edmund Clarence Stedman

I walk the lane's dim hollow, --
Past is the twilight hour,
But stealthy shadows follow
And Night withholds her power,
For somewhere in the eastern sky
The shrouded moon is high.

Dews from the wild rose drip unheard, --
Their unforgotten scent
With that of woods and grasses blent;
No muffled flight of bird,
No whispering voice, my footfall stops;
No breeze amid the poplar-tops
The smallest leaf has stirred.

Yet round me, here and there,
A little fluttering wind
Plays now, -- these senses have divined
A breath across my hair, --
A touch, -- that on my forehead lies,
And presses long
These lips so mute of song,
And now, with kisses cool, my half-shut eyes.

This night? O what is here!
What viewless aura clings
So fitfully, so near,
On this returning eventide
When Memory will not be denied
Unfettered wings?

My arms reach out, -- in vain, --
They fold the air:
And yet -- that wandering breath again!
Too vague to make her phantom plain,
Too tender for despair.



Poems now first collected:
Copyright 1897
Houghton, Mifflin And Company
Boston And New York