Auf Wiedersehen

James Russell Lowell

The little gate was reached at last,
Half hid in lilacs down the lane;
She pushed it wide, and, as she past,
A wistful look she backward cast,
And said, -- "Auf wiedersehen!"

With hand on latch, a vision white
Lingered reluctant, and again
Half doubting if she did aright,
Soft as the dews that fell that night,
She said, -- "Auf wiedersehen!"

The lamp's clear gleam flits up the stair;
I linger in delicious pain;
Ah, in that chamber, whose rich air
To breathe in thought I scarcely dare,
Thinks she, -- "Auf wiedersehen!"

'Tis thirteen years; once more I press
The turf that silences the lane;
I hear the rustle of her dress,
I smell the lilacs, and -- ah, yes,
I hear, -- "Auf wiedersehen!"

Sweet piece of bashful maiden art!
The English words had seemed too fain,
But these -- they drew us heart to heart,
Yet held us tenderly apart;
She said, -- "Auf wiedersehen!"

* * * * *

Still thirteen years: 't is autumn now
On field and hill, in heart and brain;
The naked trees at evening sough;
The leaf to the forsaken bough
Sighs not, -- "Auf wiedersehen!"

Two watched yon oriole's pendent dome,
That now is void, and dank with rain,
And one, -- oh, hope more frail than foam!
The bird to his deserted home
Sings not, -- "Auf wiedersehen!"

The loath gate swings with rusty creak;
Once, parting there, we played at pain;
There came a parting, when the weak
And fading lips essayed to speak
Vainly, -- "Auf wiedersehen!"

Somewhere is comfort, somewhere faith,
Though thou in outer dark remain;
One sweet sad voice ennobles death,
And still, for eighteen centuries saith
Softly, -- "Auf wiedersehen!"

If earth another grave must bear,
Yet heaven hath won a sweeter strain,
And something whispers my despair,
That, from an orient chamber there,
Floats down, -- "Auf wiedersehen!"

Summer -- Palinode -- Autumn.

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