Lilacs blossom just as sweet
Now my heart is shattered.
If I bowled it down the street,
Who’s to say it mattered?
If there’s one that rode away
What would I be missing?
Lips that taste of tears, they say,
Are the best for kissing.
Eyes that watch the morning star
Seem a little brighter;
Arms held out to darkness are
Shall I bar the strolling guest,
Bind my brow with willow,
When, they say, the empty breast
Is the softer pillow?
That a heart falls tinkling down,
Never think it ceases.
Every likely lad in town
Gathers up the pieces.
If there’s one gone whistling by
Would I let it grieve me?
Let him wonder if I lie;
Let him half believe me.
No more my little song comes back;
And now of nights I lay
My head on down, to watch the black
And wait the unfailing gray.
Oh, sad are winter nights, and slow;
And sad’s a song that’s dumb;
And sad it is to lie and know
Another dawn will come.
They laid their hands upon my head,
They stroked my cheek and brow;
And time could heal a hurt, they said,
And time could dim a vow.
And they were pitiful and mild
Who whispered to me then,
“The heart that breaks in April, child,
Will mend in May again.”
Oh, many a mended heart they knew,
So old they were, and wise.
And little did they have to do
To come to me with lies!
Who flings me silly talk of May
Shall meet a bitter soul;
For June was nearly spent away
Before my heart was whole.
Death’s the lover that I’d be taking;
Wild and fickle and fierce is he.
Small’s his care if my heart be breaking —
Gay young Death would have none of me.
Hear them clack of my haste to greet him!
No one other my mouth had kissed.
I had dressed me in silk to meet him —
False young Death would not hold the tryst.
Slow’s the blood that was quick and stormy,
Smooth and cold is the bridal bed;
I must wait till he whistles for me —
Proud young Death would not turn his head.
I must wait till my breast is wilted,
I must wait till my back is bowed,
I must rock in the corner, jilted, —
Death went galloping down the road.
Gone’s my heart with a trifling rover.
Fine he was in the game he played —
Kissed, and promised, and threw me over,
And rode away with a prettier maid.
Once when I was young and true,
Someone left me sad —
Broke my brittle heart in two;
And that is very bad.
Love is for unlucky folk,
Love is but a curse.
Once there was a heart I broke;
And that, I think, is worse.
In April, in April,
My one love came along,
And I ran the slope of my high hill
To follow a thread of song.
His eyes were hard as porphyry
With looking on cruel lands;
His voice went slipping over me
Like terrible silver hands.
Together we trod the secret lane
And walked the muttering town.
I wore my heart like a wet, red stain
On the breast of a velvet gown.
In April, in April,
My love went whistling by,
And I stumbled here to my high hill
Along the way of a lie.
Now what should I do in this place
But sit and count the chimes,
And splash cold water on my face
And spoil a page with rhymes?
How shall I wail, that wasn’t meant for weeping?
Love has run and left me, oh, what then?
Dream, then, I must, who never can be sleeping;
What if I should meet Love, once again?
What if I met him, walking on the highway?
Let him see how lightly I should care.
He’d travel his way, I would follow my way;
Hum a little song, and pass him there.
What if at night, beneath a sky of ashes,
He should seek my doorstep, pale with need?
There could he lie, and dry would be my lashes;
Let him stop his noise, and let me read.
Oh, but I’m gay, that’s better off without him;
Would he’d come and see me, laughing here.
Lord! Don’t I know I’d have my arms about him,
Crying to him, “Oh, come in, my dear!”
Who was there had seen us
Wouldn’t bid him run?
Heavy lay between us
All our sires had done.
There he was, a-springing
Of a pious race —
Setting hags a-swinging
In a market-place;
Sowing turnips over
Where the poppies lay;
Looking past the clover,
Adding up the hay;
Shouting through the Spring song,
Clumping down the sod;
Toadying, in sing-song,
To a crabbèd god.
There I was, that came of
Folk of mud and flame —
I that had my name of
Them without a name.
Up and down a mountain
Streeled my silly stock;
Passing by a fountain,
Wringing at a rock;
Throwing back their heads;
Fiddling for their dinners,
Kissing for their beds.
Not a one had seen us
Wouldn’t help him flee.
Angry ran between us
Blood of him and me.
How shall I be mating
Who have looked above —
Living for a hating,
Dying of a love?
The first time I died, I walked my ways;
I followed the file of limping days.
I held me tall, with my head flung up,
But I dared not look on the new moon’s cup.
I dared not look on the sweet young rain,
And between my ribs was a gleaming pain.