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THE WANDERERS

Out from her doorway peeped the little maid
To gaze upon the world most full of glee.
Her eager eyes all bright and unafraid,
Her smooth cheek flushed with joy of things to be.

Nor did she stay because long shadows fleet
Did seek the sun for some too slow eclipse;
She shut the door behind her daring feet,
And hastened forth, a song upon her lips.

Deep in her heart a timid dream's unrest,
A chidden thought not all forbid to stay,
Of how, as from life's fruit she plucked the best,
A splendid knight would ride upon her way.

There was for her no danger in the shade,
No evil in the whisper of the wind,
Out from her home sped forth the little maid,
And closed the door her eager feet behind.

Did you not know her? Woman, pale of cheek.
Dim-eyed and weary, pray you stop and tell—
The years are long, the grave is far to seek.
Rest you a little—you who knew her well.

The splendid youth—was he but all a dream?
Came he not forth in armour's bright array,
Fore of the battle did his banner stream.
In eager hand uplifted for the fray?


There at his gate he stood, the little knight,
For any maid a champion bold and fair,
In benediction lay a shaft of light
Upon his golden helm of silken hair.

He looked into the world, nor feared the shade,
High were his hopes of battles yet to be;
With his brave eyes he sought them unafraid
And for his watchword hath he purity.

The victor's laurels and the poet's crown,
The singer's lute, the soldier's sword, all won,
All that the world could hold of high renown.
As there he stood a-dreaming in the sun.

Do you remember, elder, sad and grey,
Behind his feet youth's portals clashing fell?
Worn in life's battle, broken in the fray,
Have you forgotten?—yet you knew him well.