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Poem by Paul Hamilton Hayne

Blanche and Nell

OH, Blanche is a city lady,
Bedecked in her silks and lace:
She walks with the mien of a stately queen,
And a queen's imperious grace.

But Nell is a country maiden,
Her dress from the farmstead loom:
Her step is free as a breeze at sea,
And her face is a rose in bloom.

The house of Blanche is a marvel
Of marble from base to dome;
It hath all things fair, and costly and rare,
But alas! it is not--home!

Nell lives in a lonely cottage
On the shores of a wave-washed isle;
And the life she leads with its loving deeds
The angels behold and smile.

Blanche finds her palace a prison,
And oft, through the dreary years,
In her burdened breast there is sad unrest,
And her eyes are dimmed with tears.

But to Nell her toils are pastime,
(Though never till night they cease);
And her soul's afloat like a buoyant boat
On the crystal tides of peace.

Ah! Blanche hath many a lover,
But she broodeth o'er old regret;
The shy, sweet red from her check is fled
For the star of her heart has set.

Fair Nell! but a single lover
Hath she in the wide, wide world;
Yet warmly apart in her glowing heart
Love bides, with his pinions furled.

To Blanche all life seems shadowed,
And she but a ghost therein;
Thro' the misty gray of her autumn day
Steal voices of grief and sin.

To Nell all life is sunshine,
All earth like a fairy sod,
Where the roses grow, and the violets blow,
In the softest breath of God.

What meaneth this mighty contrast
Of lives that we meet and mark?
One bright as the flowers from May-tide showers,
One rayless, sombre, and dark?

O, folly of mortal wisdom,
That neither will break nor bow,
That riddle hath vexed the thought perplexed
Of millions of souls ere now!

O, folly of mortal wisdom!
From your guesses what good can come?
We can learn no more than the wise of yore;
'Tis better to trust, and--be dumb!

Paul Hamilton Hayne

Paul Hamilton Hayne's other poems:
  1. An Idle Poet, Dreaming in the Sun
  2. O God! What Glorious Seasons Bless Thy World!
  3. УThe Old Man of the SeaФ
  4. A Christmas Lyric
  5. The Laughing Hours before Her Feet

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