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Poem by Bessie Rayner Parkes

Magic Rings

WE read in our childhood of rings which were wrought
By magical fires in the heart of the hills;
Which could whirl one through space with the quickness of thought,
And heal with a touch the most deadly of ills!
But the one which I coveted more than the rest,
Was always described as a beautiful blue,
Which changed in a moment if used as a test,
And called to distinguish the false from the true.

If I had but this ring on my finger to-day,
And could ask it each question that burns on my tongue,
Dare I listen unshrinking to all it could say,
Dare I use it like those which are fabled in song!
And if it turned green when applied to the root
Of a hope which I held, or a heart which I cherished,
Could I turn in my path, shake the dust from my foot,
And fling them aside like a rose that has perished?

Oh! frail as we are, all our life is a chain
Of links which half-hidden yet strengthen the rest,
No poor little dream is created in vain,
If we saw what was true, should we do what was best?
And if we could conjure the shadows that lurk
In the corners of life into being and form,
Would they leave us the calmness that fits us for work,
Or rob us of courage to weather the storm?

Ah, friend of my heart! if a fairy in play
Should give you a ring which would whisper of me,
I pray you to cast the temptation away;--
Since you trust in my love, let it be! let it be!
Restore it, sweet heart, to the hand whence it came,
Although it may be the most beautiful blue,
And cease not to trust me and love me the same,
Nor peril the test--if we knew! if we knew!

Bessie Rayner Parkes

Bessie Rayner Parkes's other poems:
  1. Firelight
  2. The Old Chateau
  3. Rome
  4. On a Group of Justice and Charity
  5. A Midsummer NightТs Dream

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