But, ’mid their drink and clatter, he would fly:
  And I myself seem half to know thy looks,
   And put the shepherds, Wanderer, on thy trace;
  And boys who in lone wheatfields scare the rooks
   I ask if thou hast pass’d their quiet place;
     Or in my boat I lie
  Moor’d to the cool bank in the summer heats,
   ’Mid wide grass meadows which the sunshine fills,
   And watch the warm green-muffled Cumner hills,
  And wonder if thou haunt’st their shy retreats.

For most, I know, thou lov’st retiràed ground.
  Thee, at the ferry, Oxford riders blithe,
   Returning home on summer nights, have met
  Crossing the stripling Thames at Bablock-hithe,
   Trailing in the cool stream thy fingers wet,
     As the slow punt swings round:
  And leaning backwards in a pensive dream,
   And fostering in thy lap a heap of flowers
   Pluck’d in shy fields and distant Wychwood bowers,
  And thine eyes resting on the moonlit stream:

And then they land, and thou art seen no more.
  Maidens who from the distant hamlets come
   To dance around the Fyfield elm in May,
  Oft through the darkening fields have seen thee roam,
   Or cross a stile into the public way.
     Oft thou hast given them store
  Of flowers—the frail-leaf’d, white anemone—
   Dark bluebells drench’d with dews of summer eves,
   And purple orchises with spotted leaves—
  But none has words she can report of thee.

And, above Godstow Bridge, when hay-time’s here
  In June, and many a scythe in sunshine flames,
   Men who through those wide fields of breezy grass
  Whereblack-wing’d swallows haunt the glittering Thames,
   To bathe in the abandon’d lasher pass,
     Have often pass’d thee near
  Sitting upon the river bank o’ergrown:
   Mark’d thine outlandish garb, thy figure spare,
   Thy dark vague eyes, and soft abstracted air;
  But, when they came from bathing, thou wert gone.

At some lone homestead in the Cumner hills,
  Where at her open door the housewife darns,
   Thou hast been seen, or hanging on a gate
  To watch the threshers in the mossy barns.
   Children, who early range these slopes and late
     For cresses from the rills,
  Have known thee watching, all an April day,
   The springing pastures and the feeding kine;
   And mark’d thee, when the stars come out and shine,
  Through the long dewy grass move slow away.

In autumn, on the skirts of Bagley Wood,
  Where most the Gipsies by the turf-edged way
   Pitch their smoked tents, and every bush you see
  With scarlet patches tagg’d and shreds of gray,
   Above the forest-ground call’d Thessaly—
     The blackbird picking food
  Sees thee, nor stops his meal, nor fears at all;
   So often has he known thee past him stray
   Rapt, twirling in thy hand a wither’d spray,
  And waiting for the spark from Heaven to fall.

And once, in winter, on the causeway chill
  Where home through flooded fields foot-travellers go,
   Have I not pass’d thee on the wooden bridge
  Wrapt in thy cloak and battling with the snow,
   Thy face towards Hinksey and its wintry ridge?
     And thou hast climb’d the hill
  And gain’d the white brow of the Cumner range;
   Turn’d once to watch, while thick the snowflakes fall,
   The line of festal light in Christ Church hall—
  Then sought thy straw in some sequester’d grange.

But what—I dream! Two hundred years are flown
  Since first thy story ran through Oxford halls,
   And the grave Glanvil did the tale inscribe
  That thou wert wander’d from the studious walls
   To learn strange arts, and join a Gipsy-tribe:
     And thou from earth art gone
  Long since, and in some quiet churchyard laid—
   Some country nook, where o’er thy unknown grave
   Tall grasses and white flowering nettles wave—
  Under a dark red-fruited yew-tree’s shade.

—No, no, thou hast not felt the lapse of hours.
  For what wears out the life of mortal men?
   ’Tis that from change to change their being rolls:
  ’Tis that repeated shocks, again, again,
   Exhaust the energy of strongest souls,
     And numb the elastic powers.
  Till having used our nerves with bliss and teen,
   And tired upon a thousand schemes our wit,
   To the just-pausing Genius we remit
  Our worn-out life, and are—what we have been.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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