Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century
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Alfred H. Miles, ed.  Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
 
A Book of Dreams (1882)
II. A Moonlight Ride
By Harriet Eleanor Hamilton-King (1840–1920)
 
THROUGH the land low-lying, fast and free
  I ride alone and under the moon;
An empty road that is strange to me,
  Yet at every turn remembered soon:
A road like a racecourse, even and wide,        5
With grassy margins on either side;
In a rapture of blowing air I ride,
  With a heart that is beating tune.
 
Light as on turf the hoof-beats fall,
  As on spongy sod as fast and fleet,        10
For the road is smooth and moist withal,
  And the water springs under the horse’s feet;
And to every stride sounds a soft plash yet,
For all the length of the way is wet
With many a runnel and rivulet        15
  That under the moonlight meet.
 
O surely the water lilies should be
  Sunk away and safe folded to rest!
But, no; they are shining open and free,
  White and awake on the water’s breast:        20
On the long and shimmering waterway,
All silver-spread to the full moon’s ray,
The shallow dykes that straggle and stray
  With their floating fringes drest.
 
The road will flow winding and winding away        25
  Through the sleeping country to-night;
All one long level of dusky grey,
  The border hedges slip past in flight;
Turning and twisting in many a lane,
Mile after mile of a labyrinth chain        30
I have seen before, I shall see again,
  Yet remember not aright.
 
And somewhere all out of sight there stands
  A sleeping house that is white and low,
Hid in the heart of the level lands,        35
  The lands where the waters wander slow,
Embowered all round by the thickset ways,
Set in a silent and stately maze
Of high-grown ilex, arbutus, bays,—
  If I ever saw it, I do not know.        40
 
Shall I ever reach it? or ere the day
Breaks, will it all have passed away?
  If only the night might last!
While the mists of moonlight the warm air fill,
Out of boskage and bower so deep and still        45
There reaches afar the glimmer, the thrill,—
  O the night is flying too fast!
 
 
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