by: Celia Thaxter (1835-1894)

      OFTLY Death touched her and she passed away
      Out of this glad, bright world she made more fair,
      Sweet as the apple-blossoms, when in May
      The orchards flush, of summer grown aware.
      All that fresh delicate beauty gone from sight,
      That gentle, gracious presence felt no more!
      How must the house be emptied of delight,
      What shadows on the threshold she passed o’er!
      She loved me. Surely I was grateful, yet
      I could not give her back all she gave me, —
      Ever I think of it with vain regret,
      Musing upon a summer by the sea;
      Remembering troops of merry girls who pressed
      About me, — clinging arms and tender eyes,
      And love, like scent of roses. With the rest
      She came to fill my heart with new surprise.
      The day I left them all and sailed away,
      While o’er the calm sea, ‘neath the soft gray sky
      They waved farewell, she followed me, to say
      Yet once again her wistful, sweet “good by.”
      At the boat’s bow she drooped; her light green dress
      Swept o’er the skiff in many a graceful fold,
      Her glowing face, bright with a mute caress,
      Crowned with her lovely hair of shadowy gold:
      And tears she dropped into the crystal brine
      For me, unworthy, as we slowly swung
      Free of the mooring. Her last look was mine,
      Seeking me still the motley crowd among.
      O tender memory of the dead I hold
      So precious through the fret and change of years
      Were I to live till Time itself grew old,
      The sad sea would be sadder for those tears.

"Regret" is reprinted from The Atlantic Monthly, vol. 26, issue 156 (October 1870).




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