Faces in the Fire.

I watch the drowsy night expire,1
And Fancy paints at my desire,2
Her magic pictures in the fire.3
An island-farm ’mid seas of corn,4
Swayed by the wandering breath of morn,5
The happy spot where I was born.6
The picture fadeth in its place ;7
Amid the glow I seem to trace8
The shifting semblance of a face.9
’Tis now a little childish form,10
Red lips for kisses pouted warm,11
And elf-locks tangled in the storm.12
’Tis now a grave and gentle maid,13
At her own beauty half afraid,14
Shrinking, yet willing to be stayed.15
’Tis now a matron with her boys,16
Dear centre of domestic joys :17
I seem to hear the merry noise.18
Oh, time was young, and life was warm,19
When first I saw that fairy form,20
Her dark hair tossing in the storm ;21
And fast and free these pulses played,22
When last I met that gentle maid23
When last her hand in mine was laid.24
Those locks of jet are turned to grey,25
And she is strange and far away,26
That might have been mine own to-day27
That might have been mine own, my dear,28
Through many and many a happy year,29
That might have sat beside me here.30
Ay, changeless through the changing scene,31
The ghostly whisper rings between32
The dark refrain of “might have been.”33
The race is o’er I might have run,34
The deeds are past I might have done,35
And sere the wreath I might have won.36
Sunk is the last faint flickering blaze ;37
The vision of departed days38
Is vanished even as I gaze.39
The pictures with their ruddy light40
Are changed to dust and ashes white,41
And I am left alone with night.42