By Whither, O, my sweet mistress, must I follow thee?
For when I hear thy distant footfall nearing,
And wait on thy appearing,
Lo! my lips are silent: no words come to me.
Once I waylaid thee in green forest covers,
Hoping that spring might free my lips with gentle fingers;
Alas! her presence lingers
No longer than on the plain the shadow of brown kestrel hovers.
Through windless ways of the night my spirit followed after;
Cold and remote were they, and there, possessed
By a strange unworldly rest,
Awaiting thy still voice heard only starry laughter.
The pillared halls of sleep echoed my ghostly tread.
Yet when their secret chambers I essayed
My spirit sank, dismayed,
Waking in fear to find the new-born vision fled.
Once indeed - but then my spirit bloomed in leafy rapture -
I loved; and once I looked death in the eyes:
So, suddenly made wise,
Spoke of such beauty as I may never recapture....
Whither, O, divine mistress, must I then follow thee?
Is it only in love ... say, is it only in death
That the spirit blossometh,
And words that may match my vision shall come to me?