A Valentine.

By the moss-grown wicket gate,1
Which she swings with timid hands,2
And but half-inclined to wait,3
A pretty maiden stands ;4
For who first shall cross her way,5
When the early sunbeams shine6
On this February day,7
She may choose as Valentine.8
So she lingers in the mist,9
While swift blushes come and go,10
Till the sun’s warm lips have kissed11
Into living gold the snow.12
Is it one of Cupid’s laws,13
Or some sweet decree of Fate,14
That a manly step should pause15
Every morning by that gate ?16
No ! his duties in the town17
Call the lad who loves her well,18
Through the pastures bare and brown,19
From his homestead on the fell.20
You may shake wise heads and smile21
Yet the narrow path leads straight22
From the fields beyond the stile23
To the moss-grown wicket gate.24
Hush ! She hears his rapid strides ;25
But the holly boughs droop nigh,26
And to-day she shyly hides27
Till the feet pause and—pass by.28
Ah! the thrush that nests above29
Sees how soft blue eyes can shine,30
When a maiden’s own true love31
Is her chosen Valentine.32
Well, a lover need not know33
That a pretty maid would wait34
In the February snow35
By a moss-grown wicket gate.36
And the secret of the bush37
Where the scarlet berries shine38
Will be safe between the thrush39
And good St Valentine.40