Isabella Valancy Crawford

“The Wishing Star”

Day floated down the sky; a perfect day,
Leaving a footprint of pale primrose gold
Along the west, that when her lover, Night,
Fled with his starry lances in pursuit,
Across the sky, the way she went might shew.
From the faint ting'd ridges of the sea, the Moon
Sprang up like Aphrodite from the wave,
Which as she climb'd the sky still held
Her golden tresses to its swelling breast,
Where wide dispread their quiv'ring glories lay,
(Or as the shield of night, full disk'd and red,
As flowers that look forever towards the Sun),
A terrace with a fountain and an oak
Look'd out upon the sea: The fountain danced
Beside the huge old tree as some slim nymph,
Rob'd in light silver might her frolics shew
Before some hoary king, while high above,
He shook his wild, long locks upon the breeze--
And sigh'd deep sighs of "All is vanity!"
Behind, a wall of Norman William's time
Rose mellow, hung with ivy, here and there
Torn wide apart to let a casement peer
Upon the terrace. On a carv'd sill I leant
(A fleur-de-lis bound with an English rose)
And look'd above me into two such eyes
As would have dazzl'd from that ancient page
That new old cry that hearts so often write
In their own ashes, "All is vanity!"
"Know'st thou--" she said, with tender eyes far-fix'd,
On the wide arch that domes our little earth,
"That when a star hurls on with shining wings,
"On some swift message from his throne of light,
"The ready heart may wish, and the ripe fruit--
"Fulfilment--drop into the eager palm?"
"Then let us watch for such a star," quoth I.
"Nay, love," she said, "'Tis but an idle tale."
But some swift feeling smote upon her brow
A rosy shadow. I turn'd and watch'd the sky--
Calmly the cohorts of the night swept on,
Led by the wide-wing'd vesper; and against the moon
Where low her globe trembl'd upon the edge
Of the wide amethyst that clearly paved
The dreamy sapphire of the night, there lay
The jetty spars of some tall ship, that look'd
The night's device upon his ripe-red shield.
And suddenly down towards the moon there ran--
From some high space deep-veil'd in solemn blue,
A little star, a point of trembling gold,
Gone swift as seen. "My wishing-star," quoth I,
"Shall tell my wish? Did'st note that little star?
"Its brightness died not, it but disappeared,
"To whirl undim'd thro' space. I wish'd our love
"Might blot the 'All is vanity' from this brief life,
"Burning brightly as that star and winging on
"Thro' unseen space of veil'd Eternity,
"Brightened by Immortality--not lost."
"Awful and sweet the wish!" she said, and so--
We rested in the silence of content.

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