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“I'd dress my mother so grand and gay,
And the baby should have a new toy each day.
“And I’d feed the hungry and clothe the poor, And all should bless me who left our door.”
The Judge looked back as he climbed the hill, And saw Maud Muller standing still.
“A form more fair, a face more sweet,
Ne'er hath it been my lot to meet.
“And her modest answer and graceful air
Show her wise and good as she is fair.
“Would she were mine, and I to-day,
Like her, a harvester of hay.
“No doubtful balance of rights and wrongs,
Nor weary lawyers with endless tongues,
“But low of cattle and song of birds,
And health, and quiet, and loving words.”
But he thought of his sister, proud and cold,
And his mother, vain of her rank and gold.
So, closing his heart, the Judge rode on,
And Maud was left in the field alone.
But the lawyers smiled that afternoon,
When he hummed in court an old love tune;
And the young girl mused beside the well,
Till the rain on the unraked clover fell.
He wedded a wife of richest dower,
Who lived for fashion, as he for power.
Yet oft, in his marble hearth's bright glow,
He watched a bright picture come and go ;
And sweet Maud Muller's hazel eyes
Looked out in their innocent surprise.
Oft, when the wine in his glass was red,
He longed for the wayside well instead;
And closed his eyes on his garnished rooms,
To dream of meadows and clover blooms;
And the proud man sighed with a secret pain,
“Ah, that I were free again
“Free as when I rode that day
Where the barefoot maiden raked the hay.”
She wedded a man unlearned and poor,
And many children played round her door.
But care and sorrow, and child-birth pain,
Left their traces on heart and brain.
And oft, when the summer sun shone hot
On the new-mown hay in the meadow lot,
And she heard the little spring-brook fall
Over the roadside, through the wall,
In the shade of the apple-tree again
She saw a rider draw his rein,
And gazing down with a timid grace,
She felt his pleased eyes read her face
Sometimes her narrow kitchen walls
Stretched away into stately halls
The weary wheel to a spinnet turned,
The tallow candle an astral burned;
And for him who sat by the chimney lug,
Dozing and grumbling o'er pipe and mug,
A manly form at her side she saw,
And joy was duty and love was law.
Then she took up her burden of life again,
Saying only, “It might have been.”
Alas for maiden, alas for Judge 1
For rich repiner and household drudge 1
God pity them both ! and pity us all,
Who vainly the dreams of youth recall;
For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: “It might have been l’”
Ah, well ! for us all some sweet hope lies
Deeply buried from human eyes;
And, in the hereafter, angels may
Roll the stone from its grave away !
John G. WHITTIER.
4 & NIGHT, to love thee like a sister -
Vows this heart to thee;
Ask no other, warmer feeling—
That were pain to me,
Tranquil would I see thy coming,
Tranquil see thee go;
What that starting tear would tell me,
I must never know.”
He with silent anguish listens,
Though his heart-strings bleed;
Clasps her in his last embraces,
Springs upon his steed;
Summons every faithful vassal
From his Alpine home;
Binds the cross upon his bosom,
Seeks the Holy Tomb.
There full many a deed of glory
Wrought the hero's arm;
Foremost still his plumage floated
Where the foemen swarm;
Till the Moslem, terror-stricken,
Quailed before his name;—
But the pang that wrings his bosom
Lives at heart the same.
One long year he bears his sorrow,
But no more can bear;
Rest he seeks, but finding never,
Leaves the army there;
Sees a ship by Joppa's haven,
Which, with swelling sail,
Wafts him where his lady's breathing
Mingles with the gale.
At her father's castle-portal
Hark! his knock is heard:
See the gloomy gate uncloses
With the thunder-word:
“She thou seek'st is veiled forever,
Is the bride of heaven;
Yester-eve the vows were plighted—
She to God is given.”
Then his old ancestral castle
He forever flees;
Battle-steed and trusty weapon
Never more he sees.
From the Toggenburg descending
Forth unknown he glides;
For the frame once sheathed in iron
Now the sackcloth hides.
There beside that hallowed region
He hath built his bower,
Where from out the dusky lindens
Looked the convent-tower;
Waiting from the morning's glimmer
Till the day was done,
Tranquil hope in every feature,
Sat he there alone.
Gazing upward to the convent
Hour on hour he passed;
Watching still his lady's lattice
Till it oped at last;
Till that form looked forth so lovely,
Till the sweet face smiled
Down into the lonesome valley,
Then he laid him down to slumber,
Cheered by peaceful dreams,
Calmly waiting till the morning
Showed again its beams.
Thus for days he watched and waited,
Thus for years he lay, Happy if he saw the lattice Open day by day—