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A Serenade At The Villa

by
 I.
That was I, you heard last night, When there rose no moon at all, Nor, to pierce the strained and tight Tent of heaven, a planet small: Life was dead and so was light.
II.
Not a twinkle from the fly, Not a glimmer from the worm; When the crickets stopped their cry, When the owls forbore a term, You heard music; that was I.
III.
Earth turned in her sleep with pain, Sultrily suspired for proof: In at heaven and out again, Lightning!---where it broke the roof, Bloodlike, some few drops of rain.
IV.
What they could my words expressed, O my love, my all, my one! Singing helped the verses best, And when singing's best was done, To my lute I left the rest.
V.
So wore night; the East was gray, White the broad-faced hemlock-flowers: There would be another day; Ere its first of heavy hours Found me, I had passed away.
VI.
What became of all the hopes, Words and song and lute as well? Say, this struck you---``When life gropes ``Feebly for the path where fell ``Light last on the evening slopes, VII.
``One friend in that path shall be, ``To secure my step from wrong; ``One to count night day for me, ``Patient through the watches long, ``Serving most with none to see.
'' VIII.
Never say---as something bodes--- ``So, the worst has yet a worse! ``When life halts 'neath double loads, ``Better the taskmaster's curse ``Than such music on the roads! IX.
``When no moon succeeds the sun, ``Nor can pierce the midnight's tent ``Any star, the smallest one, ``While some drops, where lightning rent, ``Show the final storm begun--- X.
``When the fire-fly hides its spot, ``When the garden-voices fail ``In the darkness thick and hot,--- ``Shall another voice avail, ``That shape be where these are not? XI.
``Has some plague a longer lease, ``Proffering its help uncouth? ``Can't one even die in peace? ``As one shuts one's eyes on youth, ``Is that face the last one sees?'' XII.
Oh how dark your villa was, Windows fast and obdurate! How the garden grudged me grass Where I stood---the iron gate Ground its teeth to let me pass!

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