So still the starry night, I almost fear
My mortal tread, lest I should put to flight
A fairy that, for sometime of the year,
Holds court in this old garden by the night.
The flow'rs are broad awake: for very truth
On this forsaken ground enchantment dwells,
Such as may breathless hold an am'rous youth,
Who seeks at dead of night for lover spells,
With anxious, fearful heart in haunted dells.
I will not walk, but sit upon this seat,
That I may see, and hear, and no noise make;
In time gone by how many gentle feet
Strayed hitherward to rest for dear love's sake?
Brave, bright-eyed youths, and many a gentle maid
Came, haply, here in June or autumn cold,
Leaving the great hall by the portal's shade
To tell a tale that even then was old —
How oft at this seat has the tale been told?
The growing things, it seems, have eyes to see;
They softly shake their heads, but make no moan;
It may be they are whispering of me,
And wond'ring why I wandered here alone.
I am not waiting for a partner; no,
You need not point at me for that; the hall
Is rank with ruin; lovers do not go
To feast together at the baron's call,
For years they have been dead and buried, all.
How silent! how bewilderingly calm!
How strange in such a place to be alone!
The big owl on the bough is fixed by charm;
The cat sits on the wall still as a stone:
Listen! the nightingale ! Oh, what a thrill
Of glory falls on all fair things around!
Now know I why this place has been so still;
The fairies have shut out all grosser sound
To hear your song in this old garden-ground.