The White Wampum

by Emily Pauline Johnson


 

CLOSE BY


 

SO near at hand (our eyes o’erlooked its nearness
In search of distant things)
A dear dream lay—perchance to grow in dearness
Had we but felt its wings
Astir. The air our very breathing fanned
5
It was so near at hand.

Once, many days ago, we almost held it,
The love we so desired;
But our shut eyes saw not, and fate dispelled it
Before our pulses fired
10
To flame, and errant fortune bade us stand
Hand almost touching hand.

I sometimes think had we two been discerning,
The by-path hid away
From others’ eyes had then revealed its turning
15
To us, nor led astray
Our footsteps, guiding us into love’s land
That lay so near at hand. [Page 65]

So near at hand, dear heart, could we have known it!
Throughout those dreamy hours,
20
Had either loved, or loving had we shown it,
Response had sure been ours,
We did not know that heart could heart command,
And love so near at hand!

What then availed the red wine’s subtle glisten?
25
We passed it blindly by,
And now what profit that we wait and listen
Each for the other’s heart beat? Ah! the cry
Of love o’erlooked still lingers, you and I
Sought heaven afar, we did not understand
30
’Twas—once so near at hand. [Page 66]