The Gardener LXXXIII: She Dwelt on the Hillside
She dwelt on the hillside by edge
of a maize-field, near the spring that
flows in laughing rills through the
solemn shadows of ancient trees. The
women came there to fill their jars,
and travellers would sit there to rest
and talk. She worked and dreamed
daily to the tune of the bubbling
One evening the stranger came down
from the cloud-hidden peak; his locks
were tangled like drowsy snakes. We
asked in wonder, "Who are you?"
He answered not but sat by the
garrulous stream and silently gazed at
the hut where she dwelt. Our hearts
quaked in fear and we came back home
when it was night.
Next morning when the women
came to fetch water at the spring by
the deodar trees, they found the doors
open in her hut, but her voice was gone
and where was her smiling face?
The empty jar lay on the floor and her
lamp had burnt itself out in the
corner. No one knew where she had
fled to before it was morning--and the
stranger had gone.
In the month of May the sun grew
strong and the snow melted, and we
sat by the spring and wept. We
wondered in our mind, "Is there a
spring in the land where she has gone
and where she can fill her vessel in
these hot thirsty days?" And we
asked each other in dismay, "Is there
a land beyond these hills where we
It was a summer night; the breeze
blew from the south; and I sat in her
deserted room where the lamp stood
still unlit. When suddenly from
before my eyes the hills vanished like
curtains drawn aside. "Ah, it is
she who comes. How are you, my
child? Are you happy? But where
can you shelter under this open sky?
And, alas! our spring is not here to
allay your thirst."
"Here is the same sky," she said,
"only free from the fencing hills,--
this is the same stream grown into a
river,--the same earth widened into
a plain." "Everything is here," I
sighed, "only we are not." She
smiled sadly and said, "You are in
my heart." I woke up and heard the
babbling of the stream and the rustling
of the deodars at night.