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Poem by Bessie Rayner Parkes

A Midsummer Nights Dream

    (OBERON loquitur.)

ALAS! they have stolen my Fairy Princess,
And where they have hidden her I cannot guess.
But my life is so lonely without her, I ride
Up by the mountain and down by the tide;
I've asked of her Father, I've asked of her Mother,
But they cannot tell, or they will not discover,
And Men, when I question them, laugh me to scorn,
And no one has seen her since yesterday morn!
I went to the wood, and I asked of the Leaves;
But they have a whispering way that deceives;
And the Oak and the Elm, when they will, can entwine,

The thickest of screens with the Ivy and Vine.
I went to the Wind, who replied with a scoff,
He had met her, 'twas true; but a longish way off!
And then the wild fellow swept over the hill,
And all in the wake of his bluster was still.
I went to the Water, who promised a vision,
Then suddenly rippled in bursts of derision,
And asked if I thought he was likely to know
Who had look'd in his mirror an hour ago!
(But ah! if one moment she smiled in my eyes,
Within them for ever the memory lies!)
I went to the Flowers; but the secrets she knows
Are tightly curled up in the heart of the Rose,
And nothing that lovers can swear or forget
Is ever betrayed by the dear Mignonette.
The pale Water-lily lies open and bare,
So openly calm that no story is there;
The Hawthorn is busy in painting her bloom,
And shakes her frail head with a burst of perfume;

Not one of the Flowers, alas! will confess
Whatever they know of my Fairy Princess.

O wonderful Nature! I know you have hidden
This delicate darling away from my sight,
I dread that you will not restore her unbidden
By spells which my tongue cannot conjure aright!
What is it you want? A fond heart? It is hers.
A life? All that duty allows is her own.
By the passionate longing which suddenly stirs
The depths of my heart--do not leave me alone!
My past? it is thrilled by the sound of her voice--
My future? is what she will give me--no more--
My present? alas, it can only rejoice
In the sight of a face which you will not restore!
Ah! moved by my pleading, the merciful mother
Has spared me the longing that fearfully kills;
And shown me in dreaming, my love, and no other,
Where she lies fast asleep--in the heart of the hills!

Bessie Rayner Parkes

Bessie Rayner Parkes's other poems:
  1. The Old Chateau
  2. Rome
  3. On a Group of Justice and Charity
  4. Firelight
  5. Up the River

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