at dusk

At dusk, like flowers that shun the day,
Shy thoughts from dim recesses break,
And plead for words I dare not say
For your sweet sake.

My early love! my first, my last!
Mistakes have been that both must rue;
But all the passion of the past
Survives for you.

The tender message Hope might send
Sinks fainting at the lips of speech,
For, are you lover – are you friend,
That I would reach?

How much to-night I’d give to win
A banished peace – an old repose;
But here I sit, and sigh, and sin
When no one knows.

The stern, the steadfast reticence,
Which made the dearest phrases halt,
And checked a first and finest sense,
Was not my fault.

I held my words because there grew
About my life persistent pride;
And you were loved, who never knew
What love could hide!

This purpose filled my soul like flame:
To win you wealth and take the place
Where care is not, nor any shame
To vex your face.

I said “Till then my heart must keep
Its secrets safe and unconfest;”
And days and nights unknown to sleep
The vow attest.

Yet, oh! my sweet, it seems so long
Since you were near; and fates retard
The sequel of a struggle strong,
And life is hard –

Too hard, when one is left alone
To wrestle passion, never free
To turn and say to you, “My own,
Come home to me!”

Henry Kendall

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