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My mother thought, What ails the boy?
For I was alter'd, and began
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 dark round of the dripping wheel, The very
air about the door
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?
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!
and I were all alone.
And slowly was my mother brought
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
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 trembles at her ear :
For hid in ringlets day and night,
And I would be the girdle
About her dainty dainty waist,
In sorrow and in rest :
And I would be the necklace,
And all day long to fall and rise
With her laughter or her sighs,
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.