"Stretch out thy hand, insatiate Time! Keeper of keys, restore to me Some gift that in the gray Earth's prime Her happy children held of thee; Some signet of that mystery Thy footsteps trample into death, Some score of that strange harmony That sings in every breath." So sung I on an autumn-day, Sitting in silence, golden, clear, When even the mild winds seemed to pray Beside the slowly dying year, And the old conqueror stopped to hear; For, like the echo of a bell, I heard him speak, in accents clear: "Choose! and thy wise choice tell!" Then all my vanishing desires, The threads of hope and joy and pain, Long burned in life's consuming fires, Came glittering into life again, And, gathered as a summer rain Into the rainbow's bended wing, Cried, with one voice of longing vain: "Give me Fastrada's ring! "Give me that talisman of peace She wore upon her finger white, Then shall the weary visions cease, That haunt me all the lingering night; The world shall blossom with delight, And birds of heaven about me sing; Ah! fill these darkened eyes with light! Give me Fastrada's ring! "Give me no jewels from thy store, No learned scrolls, no gems of art; My eager wishes grasp at more: Sleep for a worn and wretched heart; A draught to melt these lips apart, Sealed with such thirst as death-pains bring; Love,--life's sole rest and better part, Give me Fastrada's ring!"
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