Where stars sleep on the calm, black water, pale
Ophelia, like a giant lily, floats,
Floats very slowly, spread on her long veil . . .
—The horn, in deep woods, sounds its final notes.
Some thousand years have passed, and drearisome
Ophelia, white ghost, threads the long, black stream.
Some thousand years her mild delirium
Has sighed to evening's breeze its tender theme.
Winds kiss her breasts and splay her veils to make
A flaring wreath, rocked gently by the flow;
Above her shoulder, willows weep and shake,
And bowed reeds arch the wide, rapt brow below.
Crimped lily pads sigh there; there alders rest;
But sometimes, when she wakes a sleeping tree,
A little stir of wings escapes some nest.
—Gold stars let fall their eerie melody.
O pale Ophelia! Beautiful as snow!
You died, child, taken by the river—true.
—Down Norway's towering mountains such winds blow
As whispered that fierce liberty to you;
The breath of wind that twisted your great mane
Bore those strange rumblings to your dreaming mind;
Your heart heard Nature singing its refrain
Whenever night sighed or the arbor whined;
Your child's heart, too naïve, too mild, gave way,
Dashed by a vast groan, voice of the mad seas;
And that pale, handsome prince one April day
Sat speechless, a poor madman, at your knees!
Heaven! Love! Freedom! You poor, crazed, dreaming
—Dissolved by him as snow by fire, your plea
Throttled by all your grand imagining,
Your blue eye stunned by dread Infinity!
—And Poets say that nights you search the pale
Starlight for flowers you plucked once—that they spy
On the stream, sometimes, spread on her long veil,
Ophelia, like a lily floating by.