Love Returned

Bayard Taylor
He was a boy when first we met;

     His eyes were mixed of dew and fire,

And on his candid brow was set

     The sweetness of a chaste desire:

But in his veins the pulses beat

     Of passion, waiting for its wing,

As ardent veins of summer heat

     Throb through the innocence of spring.

As manhood came, his stature grew,

     And fiercer burned his restless eyes,

Until I trembled, as he drew

     From wedded hearts their young disguise.

Like wind-fed flame his ardor rose,

     And brought, like flame, a stormy rain:

In tumult, sweeter than repose,

     He tossed the souls of joy and pain.

So many years of absence change!

     I knew him not when he returned:

His step was slow, his brow was strange,

     His quiet eye no longer burned.

When at my heart I heard his knock,

     No voice within his right confessed:

I could not venture to unlock

     Its chambers to an alien guest.

Then, at the threshold, spent and worn

     With fruitless travel, down he lay:

And I beheld the gleams of morn

     On his reviving beauty play.

I knelt, and kissed his holy lips,

     I washed his feet with pious care;

And from my life the long eclipse

     Drew off; and left his sunshine there.

He burns no more with youthful fire;

     He melts no more in foolish tears;

Serene and sweet, his eyes inspire

     The steady faith of balanced years.

His folded wings no longer thrill,

     But in some peaceful flight of prayer:

He nestles in my heart so still,

     I scarcely feel his presence there.

O Love, that stern probation o'er,

     Thy calmer blessing is secure!

Thy beauteous feet shall stray no more,

     Thy peace and patience shall endure!

The lightest wind deflowers the rose,

     The rainbow with the sun departs,

But thou art centred in repose,

     And rooted in my heart of hearts!

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Bayard Taylor