The Lady in the White Dress, Whom I Helped Into the Omnibus
Nathaniel Parker Willis, The Poems, Sacred, Passionate, and Humorous (New York: Clark and Maynard, 1868): 283-84. Internet Archive
1I know her not! Her hand has been in mine,
2And the warm pressure of her taper arm
3Has thrill'd upon my fingers, and the hem
4Of her white dress has lain upon my feet,
5Till my hush'd pulse, by the caressing folds,
6Was kindled to a fever! I, to her,
7Am but the undistinguishable leaf
8Blown by upon the breeze -- yet I have sat,
9And in the blue depths of her stainless eyes,
10(Close as a lover in his hour of bliss,
11And steadfastly as look the twin stars down
12Into unfathomable wells,) have gazed!
13And I have felt from out its gate of pearl
14Her warm breath on my cheek, and while she sat
15Dreaming away the moments, I have tried
16To count the long dark lashes in the fringe
17Of her bewildering eyes! The kerchief sweet
18That enviably visits her red lip
19Has slumber'd, while she held it, on my knee, --
20And her small foot has crept between mine own --
21And yet, she knows me not!
22 Now, thanks to heaven
23For blessings chainless in the rich man's keeping --
24Wealth that the miser cannot hide away!
25Buy, if they will, the invaluable flower --
26They cannot store its fragrance from the breeze!
27Wear, if they will, the costliest gem of Ind --
28It pours its light on every passing eye!
29And he who on this beauty sets his name --
30Who dreams, perhaps, that for his use alone
31Such loveliness was first of angels born --
32Tell him, oh whisperer at his dreaming ear,
33That I too, in her beauty, sun my eye,
34And, unrebuked, may worship her in song --
35Tell him that heaven, along our darkling way,
36Hath set bright lamps with loveliness alight --
37And all may in their guiding beams rejoice;
38But he -- as 'twere a watcher by a lamp --
39Guards but this bright one's shining.
RPO poem Editors:
Ian Lancashire / Sharine Leung