The Twin Sisters.

Stand both before me ; for, when one is gone,1
I scarce can tell which is the absent one :2
To stray asunder ye should aye be loath,3
So much alike ye are—so lovely both !4
Together ye are peerless, but apart5
Each may be match’d by each ; to rule the heart6
Keep, gentle cherubs, a conjoined sway ;7
Our love’s divided when there’s one away !8
Oh ! wherefore both so lovely ? wherefore came9
Such beauty separate and yet the same ?10
Was it too great for one alone to bear,11
That each comes laden with an equal share ?12
It may be, Nature, anxious to excel,13
Moulded one lovely face and loved it well,14
Then, hopeless to achieve a higher aim,15
Sought but to form one more, in all the same !16
Or haply ’twas in kindness to the one,17
That Nature would not trust her forth alone,18
Lest she should mar her looks with vanity19
To think none other was so fair as she !20
If you but hold a mirror up to each,21
’Twill name its sister in its lisping speech ;22
And still, while equal loveliness is theirs,23
May one see only what the other shares !24
Beauty that only looks upon itself25
Becomes unlovely ; yet, thou little elf,26
Not e’en thy sister should be praised by thee,27
Lest the harsh world pronounce it vanity !28
Talk not to others of her silken hair,29
Lest they should say, “ Thou know’st thine own as fair !”30
Nor praise the lustre of her light blue eye,31
Lest thy own glance win back the flattery !32
Ah me ! I wonder if alike ye’ll prove,33
When ripen’d into votaries of love !34
Then will sad lovers, puzzled which to choose,35
Find solace in the thought, “ Can both refuse ?”36
Then will the promise which the one has named37
Be haply often from the other claim’d,38
And the fond wish of secret whisperer,39
Be met with— “ Oh, it was my sister, sir !”40
Go, go your ways, and in your little breasts41
Still bear the innocence your joy attests !42
Go, wander forth ’neath childhood’s sunny sky,43
And gather flowers whose fragrance will not die !44