The Meeting.

Bitter was the tale I dreaded,1
Grief of heart for evermore,2
When, from years of weary travel,3
Landing on my native shore,4
I sought out the ancient village5
And the well-remembered door.6
Long it was since any tidings7
Reached me wandering o’er the wave,8
And my soul for certain knowledge,9
Though it held a curse, did crave10
Though the melancholy answer11
Only echoed of the grave.12
I had left three little children13
In the years of long ago14
But past joy is present sorrow ;15
Painfully the seasons flow16
Who am I to be delivered17
From the broken hopes below ?18
I had left an angel woman19
Guardian of the tender three20
Is she dead or is she living ?21
Is her spirit true to me ?22
Well I know that many winters23
Cannot change her constancy.24
And I sought the well-loved cottage,25
Skirted by the poplar tall ;26
Waited by the garden-wicket,27
Listening to the waterfall ;28
And I caught the pleasant odour29
Of the jasmine on the wall.30
Then I entered, and she knew me,31
And sank fainting in my arms.32
On her face I saw imprinted33
Midnight watchings, pain, alarms.34
And her children clustered round me,35
Undivided, free from harms.36