Softly the water ripples
Against the canoe's curving side,
Softly the birch trees rustle
Flinging over us branches wide.
Softly the moon glints and glistens
As the water takes and leaves,
Like golden ears of corn
Which fall from loose-bound sheaves,
Or like the snow-white petals
Which drop from an overblown rose,
When Summer ripens to Autumn
And the freighted year must close.
From the shore come the scents of a garden,
And between a gap in the trees
A proud white statue glimmers
In cold, disdainful ease.
The child of a southern people,
The thought of an alien race,
What does she in this pale, northern garden,
How reconcile it with her grace?
But the moon in her wayward beauty
Is ever and always the same,
As lovely as when upon Latmos
She watched till Endymion came.
Through the water the moon writes her legends
In light, on the smooth, wet sand;
They endure for a moment, and vanish,
And no one may understand.
All round us the secret of Nature
Is telling itself to our sight,
We may guess at her meaning but never
Can know the full mystery of night.
But her power of enchantment is on us,
We bow to the spell which she weaves,
Made up of the murmur of waves
And the manifold whisper of leaves.