732. Serenade

Aubrey De Vere. 1814-1902

SOFTLY, O midnight Hours!
    Move softly o'er the bowers
Where lies in happy sleep a girl so fair!
    For ye have power, men say,
    Our hearts in sleep to sway,
And cage cold fancies in a moonlight snare.
    Round ivory neck and arm
    Enclasp a separate charm;
Hang o'er her poised, but breathe nor sigh nor prayer:
    Silently ye may smile,
    But hold your breath the while,
And let the wind sweep back your cloudy hair!

    Bend down your glittering urns,
    Ere yet the dawn returns,
And star with dew the lawn her feet shall tread;
    Upon the air rain balm,
    Bid all the woods be calm,
Ambrosial dreams with healthful slumbers wed;
    That so the Maiden may
    With smiles your care repay,
When from her couch she lifts her golden head;
    Waking with earliest birds,
    Ere yet the misty herds
Leave warm 'mid the gray grass their dusky bed.

The Oxford Book of English Verse, HTML edition