Sagas of Vaster Britain: Poems of the Race, the Empire and the Divinity of Man

by William Wilfred Campbell


 

THE ELF-LOVER


 

IT was a haunted youth; he spake
    Beneath the beechen shade:
‘An’ hast thou seen my love go past,
    A sunny, winsome maid?

‘An’ hast thou seen my love fare past,

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    Her face with life aflame?
The leaves astir her footsteps tell,
    The soft winds blow her name.

‘’Twas when the autumn days were still—
    It seemeth but an hour—

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I met her on the gold hillside
    When elfin loves had power.

‘Her voice was like the sound of brooks,
    Her face like some wild bloom;
And in the beauty of her look

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    I read mine ancient doom.

‘And when the world in mist died out
    Down toward some evening land,
Betwixt the glinting golden rod
    We two went hand in hand.

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‘And when the moon, a golden disk,
    Above the night hills came,
Down in a world of midnight haze
    I kissed her lips aflame.

‘But when the moon was hidden low

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    Behind each spectre tree,
She loosed from my sad arms and bent
    A startled look on me.

‘(While wound from out some haunted dusk
    A far-off elfin horn),

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Like one on sudden woke from sleep,
    And fled into the morn.

‘I follow her, I follow her,
    But nevermore may see—
The crimson dawn, the stars of night

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    Know what she is to me.

‘I ne’er can rest, I ne’er can stay,
    But speed from place to place;
For all my heart is flamed with that
    Wild glamour of her face.

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‘I know her soft arms in my dreams,
    All wound about my sleep;
I seem to hear her silvern voice
    In all the winds that creep.

‘O saw you not her come this way,

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    By boughs in waters glassed?
So slight her form, so soft her step
    You’d think a moon-ray passed.

‘O tell me, did you see her wend?
    And whence, to hill or sea?

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The ruddy dawn, the stars of night
    Know what she is to me.’