WHEN Night had wav'd her magic wand
And bid the Moon awake
the Moonbeams 'lighted hand in hand
Upon a lonely Lake.
And as their tiny twinkling feet
Dip, trip and skip in glee,
The Lake in mournful tone did greet
Her guests so gay and free:
"You're welcome friends," the Lake did say
"To find happiness,
On what there is of me to day!
Tomorrow I'll be less!"
"Oh, shame! But why?" the Beams did pause
To ask in sympathy;
"Kind friends you'll hardly guess the cause
That's slowly killing me!"
"On less and less of me each night
Your feet will trip and tread!
And one sad night your steps will 'light
On just my clayey bed!"
"Oh cruel, sad! It can't be right!"
The Beams vowed tearfully;
"Do let us know please of your plight!
We'd like to, awfully!"
"Not very long ago
You'll scarcely believe me,
This mouldy muddy mass of woe
Was not me really!
"A bluer hue of blue was I
Than blue of sky or sea;
Each fleecy cloud that floated by
I mirror'd faithfully;
"And graceful swans with necks of snow
On me did glide and race;
And lilies white, gold, pink did blow
Upon my limpid face!
"And Sun and Moon! Stars big and wee
And things that bide the Earth,
Came night and day to bathe in me
And praise my worth and birth!
"Though bless'd in ev'ry way to live
In happy calm content,
My mind did now and then misgive
My heart with resentment:
"Whilst ev'rything above, around
Could run or swim or soar,
My wretched lot did keep me bound
To banks for evermore!
"The very stars and clouds so free
I mirror'd faithfully,
Did seem to mock imprison'd me;
Oh! How I shrieked to flee!
"This yearn for freedom set my heart
Abrooding night and day;
And moodily I played my part
To guests that came my way.
"Though kind alike to ev'ry guest
Polite to ev'ry one,
Ere long, I grew to like one best,
Mad fool! I lov'd the Sun!
"I don't know if you know Love's way?
It's dreadful, really!
In chips you fling your heart away
For chunks of misery!
"Why! Lambs that tickle a tiger's side
And moths that flirt with flames
Are wise without a doubt beside
The mug that plays Love's games!
"In Love's deft hands I was clay
Forgetting wrong and right;
I hugg'd and kiss'd the Sun all day
And dream'd of him all night!
"His boiling hug and burning kiss
Did thrill me all ablaze,
And things around seem'd in my bliss
But shadows in a haze!
"Mad giddy chump! I little guess'd
I'd live to rue the day
I fell in love, nor had assess'd
The price I'd have to pay!
"For when I woke from Love's mad dream
I found to my dismay
My mossy velvet banks did seem
Mud-brown and miles away!
"My water's hue, a blue no more
Had turn'd a clammy green!
Of swans and bathers, shore to shore
Not e'en a sign was seen!
"My lilies white, gold, pink and blue-
Alas! I weep to state-
Were boil'd burn'd and turn'd to stew!
My Love had seal'd their fate!
"And even Pigs that pass my way,
Say 'We're afraid it's time
We went around elsewhere to play:
Why, this is worse than slime!'
"Thus loath'd and lonely brink to brink
I weep in misery
Against the day my Love will drink
What little's left of me!"
Whilst thus in woe the Lake poured out
Her piteous history,
Sore helplessly she look'd about
As though for sympathy!
But strange to say, to her dismay
The Moonbeams did but grin!
And peal on peal of laughter gay
Did fill the air with din!
The Lake enrag'd thro' wounded pride
Remark'd in caustic tone:
"I'm glad my plight doth well provide
My guests with food for fun!"
The Beams forthwith with looks contrite
Suppress'd their ill-tim'd mirth,
But said "Dear Lake, we're sure you're quite
The blindest thing on earth!
"You little guess'd we Beams so gay
That prance on you by night
Are but the Sun's hot rays by day
That brought you to this plight!
"The Sun you love so faithfully
Doth love thee too, dear friend,
And day by day works manfully
Your prison'd state to end!
"And drop by drop he drinks his love
To carry her on high
Until amidst the clouds above
A cloud she'll roam the sky!
"And far and wide, and high and low,
You'll wander gay and free;
'Tis then dear Lake you'll surely know
How true the Sun loves thee!
"And then, somewhen, like things possess'd
For long do cloy at last,
Your yearn to flee, which once obsess'd
Your heart and mind, dies fast;
"And thoughts of happy nights and days
You spent as Lake on earth
Return, and turn your heart Earthways;
Again you'll take your birth!
"As some huge sea, Earthbound but free
To heave and roll your fill,
Bounded by banks but built by thee
To break or make at will!
"On moonlit nights as bright as this
Your mem'ry will awake
To other moonlit nights of bliss
You spent on Earth as Lake!
"With joyous hiss, rejoicing roar,
You'll seethe and shoot on high
To greet us Beams your friends of yore
Ere e'en we quit the sky!
"And thus you see you are, dear Lake,
Not what you think you are:
'Tis lilies, swans and banks that make
You feel a lake, and bar!
"The light to know thyself as One
Not Lake nor Cloud nor Sea
But each a guise You will to don
To hid Thyself from Thee!
"But lo! Thy love doth mount the East
And lures us from the Moon
To light and warm earth, plant and beast
And free you too ere noon!"
And as they spoke, the Beams did turn
To blinding scorching rays
That set about the lake to burn
Her free of 'prison'd days.