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My beautiful lilies down under the snow,
Hasten not, waken slow
From your dreaming! for O,
I dread the bright summer with gossamer wings
Which over your brows a diadem flings
Of perfumed white petals, as pure as is meet,
While low at your feet, darlings, low at your feet
This heart will be lying!
Would God it were dying
And sleeping in peace with you under the snow!


Yet, O beautiful things, but a summer ago,
Listen low, listen low!
You remember I know
Each morning how gaily I lifted you up
And dared to look into each virginal cup
Face to face with your pureness; I flung back as pure
A look as you gave me--God! can I endure!
My step was the lightest,
My soul was the whitest,
And life was on wings but a summer ago.


But my pathway o'er-ran with the green myrtle vine
So tender it seemed
I never had dreamed
It would tangle and leave me so cruelly bound--
That a hand from caressing so quickly could wound
With a stab to the heart. Oh! that I had died
When a pure little child, and slept cold at the side
Of my sweet young dead mother
Whose love and no other
Would bear on her bosom such anguish as mine!


O sleep, with two hands crossing over a breast!
The garment I covet
A white shroud--above it
A green quilt all daisy-starred--no! such as I
Have no name cut in marble to tell where they lie.
I flee like a hunted thing--where can I hide?
Heaven's mercy!--I see now--there runs a dark tide,
Yes! yes! the black river,
For sorrows are never
So wild but it hushes and lulls them to rest!


And oh! my sweet darlings down under the snow,
When you wake you will know,
And will miss me, dears, so,
By the grasses untrod, and the paths unimpressed,
By the sparrows unfed, by my dog uncaressed,
By the hush of the still air which erst and ere-while
Was liquid with laughter and song without guile.
On the black flowing river
The sunlight will shiver,
And then you will know, darlings, Oh, you will know!


Life, life, is thy bitterness ever redressed?
Is there any Heaven?
Are sins ever forgiven?
Comes white in the next world what turned black in this?
Hush, heart! thou shalt know e'er day dawns all that is.
O river, be kind, though thy bosom be cold,
Let me sleep well and long in thy passionless hold.
From Tantalus fly not!
O Lethe, deny not
Thy boons of oblivion--rest, give me rest!

* * * * *

And now, while the madness is gathering stark,
Do thou, my soul, hark!
If down through the dark
God's mercy may whisper at last, and so late,
That I go not unshrived and accursed to my _fate_.
One last moment, one, my poor eyes from the ground
Uplift them to heaven, awaiting that sound.
Will no angel speak
This death-spell to break?
Still--still as the grave--like the grave all is dark!


Are they weeping, those lilies down under the snow?
I can hear them, I know,
And I love them, but oh!
Mine eyes are as dry as the dust without rain,
And the drouth of my heart scorches up in my brain.
My sight swims in blackness--strange frenzy I feel,
I swoon--the sky wavers--my racked senses reel!
Is this mortal immortal?
O death swing thy portal
Wide, wide to receive me!--Christ pity me--so!