[The Lily Swan]

The Lily Swan sings just once

In Life, and this,

Just before Death.

I've heard played the sweet,

Warbling note near the reedy creek.

I came nearer then,

And saw her far-seeing

Glance not at me, only before;

I caught a long eye-worth

Of that proud-neck'd bird

Trebling in lonely solicitude

Of that fate coming silently,

Yet for her song did nobly wait.


The blue noon's sky dimmed

As her head dipped; the lonely rushes

Bent and o'erswayed the other,

Sounded like mourners,

Weavers of spun funeral fire.


Her sad voice stayed over the

Meadow and weeping field;

She lived to see what companion

To dying the rushes might yield:


'tis only I, slow-gliding swan,

Who've only come to listen that once,

As has the wind, patient and long.

Ye, who see death and yet still

Soft moves along, sing plaintively;

The stream wherein ye had some of your life

Before time meddled away your lot,

Now scorns ye what ye lived.


Finish! Sweet song-champion!

And hie ye forward on,

Sing plain—'tis death awaits,

And death none can stray too far along—

Or death comes quick and bold

To take from us life which we hold—

She sang her last song, she knew,

And moved on.