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The Collected Poems of Dora Sigerson Shorter/The Enchanted Lake


I found a dark enchanted lake,
That lay within a lonely glade;
I stood a moment, held entranced.
Hid 'neath the willow's purple shade.

The moon cast down her silver nets,
As slow she sailed the misty blue,
And in their twisting coil and mesh
The leaping waters softly drew.

Like some young nun, vain in the night,
The white magnolia blossom bent
All timid down her face to view
Within that favoured element.

“Why from rough seas did Venus rise,
And wherefore let her beauty glow
From chill embraces of the wave.
If she this fairy spot did know?”

I thought: “From this enchanted lake,
That holds the heavens on its heart,
Should she have risen in the night
And flung the clinging waves apart.”

Lo! as I spoke the purple shade
Rang out in some sweet elfin tune,
And singing 'neath my gaze, a nymph
Flashed in the pale net of the moon.

“Ye gods, look down,” I knelt and cried:
“This scented pool is sure a cup
Lost from your board, upon whose lip
A precious pearl is offered up.

“Or if they sleep, O nymph, on me
Some pity take, and seek the shore,
Or draw me in your white embrace
Down to your home for evermore.”

For one sweet moment did she stand,
A gleaming statue washed in tears;
Her snowy breast alone did tell
The tragic tumult of her fears.

Then, like some bird who feels a wound,
She gave her voice to little cries.
But ere she fluttered to the shade
She looked on me with Laura's eyes.

Ah! This white fairy of the lake,
Who by her magic did entrance,
Held one brief moment my poor heart,
All faithless, only by a glance.

To you, my Laura, ever true,
Who now pass by with much disdain,
And will not listen to my vows,
But let me plead, and plead in vain;

Who turn away with blushing cheek
And head averted at my sigh,
Whose scornful laughter chills my heart,
So that I pine, and soon must die.

Ah! who beside that sheltered lake
Did thus my secret love surprise?
I swear the nymph was nought to me,
Save that she looked with Laura's eyes.