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Poem by Thomas MacDonagh


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The house in the wood beside the lake
    That I once knew well I must know no more
My slow feet other paths must take --
    How soon would they reach the old known door!
    But now that time is o'er.

The lake is quiet and hush to-day;
    The downward heat keeps the water still
And the wind that round me used to play
    Ere through elm and oak from the pine-clad hill
    I plunged with heart a-thrill.

A time can die as a man can die
    And be buried too and buried deep;
But a memory lives though the ages fly--
    I know two hearts one memory keep
    That cannot die or sleep.

How clear the shadow of every tree--
    The oaks and elms in stately line!
The lake is like a silent sea
    Of emerald, or an emerald mine,
    Till the forest thins to pine.

For the slender pine has never a leaf,
    And the sun and the breeze break through at will--
There's a weed that the eddy whirls in a sheaf
    In the brown lake's depths, all wet and chill,--
    I call it the lake-pine still.

Such idle names we used to give
    To the weeds as we passed here in our boat--
We shall pass no more, and they shall live
    While others o'er them idly float--
    They shall neither hear nor note,

They are things that never hear or see--
    Yet once I trusted my heart to all;
I heard my tale from many a tree,--
    Thought the lake-pines knew one light foot-fall,
    One laugh and one low call.

And perhaps they did, for all the day
    They seem like me to be sad and lone;
The current has not come to play
    And twist its sheaf; no breeze has blown,
    Though yon the sedges moan.

And oft o'er the waters I fondly bowed,
    And made belief that I saw there
One face, for my fancy featured a cloud
    Or showed me my own more bright and fair--
    How vainly now I stare!

Is it vain to think that at some time yet--
    Far off, perhaps in a thousand years--
We shall meet again as we have met:
    A meeting of olden joy and tears
    Which all the more endears.

Perhaps in a house beside a lake
    In a wood of elm and oak and beech--
Ah, hope is long!  It can wait and wake.
    Though the world be dead it can forward reach
    And join us each to each.

But I fear the waiting -- God, recall,
    Recall, recall Thy fated will!
How can I wait while the slow leaves fall
    From the tree of time and I fulfil
    My vigil lone and chill?

How can I wait for what is mine?--
    Thou didst will it so, and Thou art just--
Oh, give me the life of the water-pine
    Till I hear one laugh, one call I trust,
    One foot-fall in the dust!

Mine then!  Mine now, by changeless fate--
    I ask but this with humble soul ;--
But bid me not, O God, to wait
    With miser hope's reluctant dole
    While wakeful aeons roll!

The time I loved is dead, cold dead;
    For it could die, and shall not rise
As I shall from a grosser bed
    To wait and watch with hungered eyes
And many a vain surmise.

The sedge and pines are moaning now;
    The current comes to twist its sheaf;
The shadow of the isle-tree bough
    Is blotted out; and twilight brief
    Foreruns long night of grief.



Thomas MacDonagh


Thomas MacDonagh's other poems:
  1. Barbara: Born 24th March, 1915
  2. I Heard a Music Sweet To-day
  3. To a Wise Man
  4. A Song of Another. For Eoghan
  5. The Rain It Raineth


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