THE night creeps onward, sad and slow:|
In these red embers' dying glow
The forms of Fancy come and go.
An island-farm---broad seas of corn
Stirred by the wandering breath of morn---
The happy spot where I was born.
The picture fadeth in its place:
Amid the glow I seem to trace
The shifting semblance of a face.
'Tis now a little childish form---
Red lips for kisses pouted warm---
And elf-locks tangled in a storm.
'Tis now a brave and gentle maid,
At her own beauty half afraid,
Shrinking, and willing to be stayed.
Oh, Time was young, and Life was warm,
When first I saw that fairy-form,
Her dark hair tossing in the storm.
And fast and free these pulses played,
When last I met that gentle maid---
When last her hand in mine was laid.
Those locks of jet are turned to gray,
And she is strange and far away
That might have been mine own to-day---
That might have been mine own, my dear,
Through many and many a happy year---
That might have sat beside me here.
Ay, changeless through the changing scene,
The ghostly whisper rings between,
The dark refrain of "might have been."
The race is o'er I might have run:
The deeds are past I might have done;
And sere the wreath I might have won.
Sunk is the last faint flickering blaze:
The vision of departed days
Is vanished even as I gaze.
The pictures, with their ruddy light,
Are changed to dust and ashes white,
And I am left alone with night.