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My mother thought, What ails the boy?

For I was alter'd, and began
To move about the house with joy,

And with the certain step of man.

I loved the brimming wave that swam

Thro' quiet meadows round the mill, The sleepy pool above the dam,

The pool beneath it never still,
The meal-sacks on the whiten'd floor,

The dark round of the dripping wheel, The very

air about the door
Made misty with the floating meal.

And oft in ramblings on the wold,

When April nights began to blow, And April's crescent glimmer'd cold,

I saw the village lights below; I knew your taper far away,

And full at heart of trembling hope, From off the wold I came, and lay

Upon the freshly-flower'd slope.

The deep brook groan'd beneath the mill;

And“ by that lamp," I thought, “she sits!" The white chalk-quarry from the hill

Gleam'd to the flying moon by fits. “O that I were beside her now!

O will she answer if I call?
O would she give me vow for vow,

Sweet Alice, if I told her all?"

Sometimes I saw you sit and spin ;

And, in the pauses of the wind, Sometimes I heard you sing within;

Sometimes your shadow cross'd the blind; At last you rose and moved the light,

And the long shadow of the chair Flitted across into the night,

And all the casement darken’d there.

But when at last I dared to speak,

The lanes, you know, were white with may: Your ripe lips moved not, but your cheek

Flush'd like the coming of the day;

And so it was—half-sly, half-shy,

You would, and would not, little one!
Although I pleaded tenderly,

and I were all alone.

And slowly was my mother brought
To yield consent to my

desire :
She wish'd me happy, but she thought

I might have look'd a little higher ; And I was young—too young to wed :

“ Yet must I love her for your sake ; Go fetch your Alice here,” she said :

Her eyelid quiver'd as she spake.

And down I went to fetch


bride :

But, Alice, you were ill at ease ; This dress and that by turns you tried,

Too fearful that you should not please. I loved you better for your fears, I knew


could not look but well ; And dews, that would have fall’n in tears,

I kiss'd away before they fell.

I watch'd the little futterings,

The doubt my mother would not see ; She spoke at large of many things,

And at the last she spoke of me ; And turning look'd upon your face,

As near this door you sat apart, And rose, and, with a silent grace

Approaching, press'd you heart to heart.

Ah, well—but sing the foolish song

I gave you, Alice, on the day When, arm in arm, we went along,

A pensive pair, and you were gay With bridal flowers—that I may seem,

As in the nights of old, to lie Beside the mill-wheel in the stream,

While those full chestnuts whisper by.

It is the miller's daughter,

And she is grown so dear, so dear,
That I would be the jewel

That trembles at her ear :

For hid in ringlets day and night,
I'd touch her neck so warm and white.

And I would be the girdle

About her dainty dainty waist,
And her heart would beat against me,

In sorrow and in rest :
And I should know if it beat right,
I'd clasp it round so close and tight.

And I would be the necklace,

And all day long to fall and rise
Upon her balmy bosom,

With her laughter or her sighs,
And I would lie so light, so light,
I scarce should be unclasp'd at night.

A trifle, sweet ! which true love spells

True love interprets—right alone. His light upon the letter dwells,

For all the spirit is his own.

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