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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

J. B. B. Nichols

A Pastoral

MY love and I among the mountains strayed

When heaven and earth in summer heat were still,

Aware anon that at our feet were laid

Within a sunny hollow of the hill

A long-haired shepherd-lover and a maid.

They saw nor heard us, who a space above,

With hands clasped close as here were clasped in his,

Marked how the gentle golden sunlight strove

To play about their leaf-crowned curls, and kiss

Their burnished slender limbs, half-bared to his love.

But grave or pensive seemed thy boy to grow,

For while upon the grass unfingered lay

The slim twin-pipes, he ever watched with slow

Dream-laden looks the ridge that far away

Surmounts the sleeping midsummer with snow.

These things we saw; moreover we could hear

The girl’s soft voice of laughter, grown more bold

With the utter noonday silence, sweet and clear:

“Why dost thou think? By thinking one grows old;

Wouldst thou for all the world be old, my dear?”

Here my love turned to me, but her eyes told

Her thought with smiles before she spake a word;

And being quick their meaning to behold

I could not choose but echo what we heard:

“Sweet heart, wouldst thou for all the world be old?”