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PHILIP AND MILDRED.
INGERING fade the rays of daylight, and the listening air is chilly; Voice of bird and forest murmur, insect hum and quivering spray, Stir not in that quiet hour: through the valley, calm and stilly, All in hushed and loving silence watch the slow departing Day.
Till the last faint western cloudlet, faint and rosy, ceases blushing, And the blue grows deep and deeper where one trembling planet shines, And the day has gone for ever—then, like some great ocean rushing, The sad night wind wails lamenting, sobbing through the moaning pines.
Such, of all day's changing hours, is the fittest and the meetest For a farewell hour—and parting looks less bitter and more blest; Earth seems like a shrine for sorrow, Nature's mother voice is sweetest, And her hand seems laid in chiding on the unquiet throbbing breast.
Words are lower, for the twilight seems rebuking sad repining, And wild murmur and rebellion, as all childish and in vain; Breaking through dark future hours clustering starry hopes seem shining, Then the calm and tender midnight folds her shadow round the pain.
So they paced the shady lime-walk in that twilight dim and holy, Still the last farewell deferring, she could hear or he should say;
Every word, weighed down by sorrow, fell more tenderly and slowly— This, which now beheld their parting, should have been their wedding-day.
Should have been: her dreams of childhood, never straying, never faltering, Still had needed Philip's image to make future life complete; Philip's young hopes of ambition, ever changing, ever altering, Needed Mildred's gentle presence even to make successes sweet.
This day should have seen their marriage; the calm crowning and assurance Of two hearts, fulfilling rather, and not changing, either life: Now they must be rent asunder, and her heart must learn endurance, For he leaves their home, and enters on a world of work and strife.
But her gentle spirit long had learnt, unquestioning, submitting, To revere his youthful longings, and to marvel at the fate That gave such a humble office, all unworthy and unfitting, To the genius of the village, who was born for something great.
When the learned Traveller came there who had gained renown at college, Whose abstruse research had won him even European fame, Questioned Philip, praised his genius, marvelled at his self-taught knowledge, Could she murmur if he called him up to London and to fame?
Could she waver when he bade her take the burden of decision, Since his troth to her was plighted, and his life was now her own?
Could she doom him to inaction? could she, when a newborn vision Rose in glory for his future, check it for her sake alone?
So her little trembling fingers, that had toiled with such fond pleasure, Paused, and laid aside, and folded the unfinished wedding gown; Faltering earnestly assurance, that she too could, in her measure, Prize for him the present honour, and the future's sure renown.
Now they pace the shady lime-walk, now the last words must be spoken, Words of trust, for neither dreaded more than waiting and delay; Was not love still called eternal—could a plighted vow be broken ?— See the crimson light of sunset fades in purple mist away.