'There's a footstep coming: look out and see,' 'The leaves are falling, the wind is calling; No one cometh across the lea.'—
'There's a footstep coming; O sister, look.'— 'The ripple flashes, the white foam dashes; No one cometh across the brook.'—
'But he promised that he would come: To-night, to-morrow, in joy or sorrow, He must keep his word, and must come home.
'For he promised that he would come: His word was given; from earth or heaven, He must keep his word, and must come home.
'Go to sleep, my sweet sister Jane; You can slumber, who need not number Hour after hour, in doubt and pain.
'I shall sit here awhile, and watch; Listening, hoping, for one hand groping In deep shadow to find the latch.'
After the dark, and before the light, One lay sleeping; and one sat weeping, Who had watched and wept the weary night.
After the night, and before the day, One lay sleeping; and one sat weeping— Watching, weeping for one away.
There came a footstep climbing the stair; Some one standing out on the landing Shook the door like a puff of air—
Shook the door, and in he passed. Did he enter? In the room centre Stood her husband: the door shut fast.
'O Robin, but you are cold— Chilled with the night-dew: so lily-white you Look like a stray lamb from our fold.
'O Robin, but you are late: Come and sit near me—sit here and cheer me.'— (Blue the flame burnt in the grate.)
'Lay not down your head on my breast: I cannot hold you, kind wife, nor fold you In the shelter that you love best.
'Feel not after my clasping hand: I am but a shadow, come from the meadow Where many lie, but no tree can stand.
'We are trees which have shed their leaves: Our heads lie low there, but no tears flow there; Only I grieve for my wife who grieves.
'I could rest if you would not moan Hour after hour; I have no power To shut my ears where I lie alone.
'I could rest if you would not cry; But there's no sleeping while you sit weeping— Watching, weeping so bitterly.'—
'Woe's me! woe's me! for this I have heard. Oh night of sorrow!--oh black to-morrow! Is it thus that you keep your word?
'O you who used so to shelter me Warm from the least wind—why, now the east wind Is warmer than you, whom I quake to see.
'O my husband of flesh and blood, For whom my mother I left, and brother, And all I had, accounting it good,
'What do you do there, underground, In the dark hollow? I'm fain to follow. What do you do there?—what have you found?'—
'What I do there I must not tell: But I have plenty: kind wife, content ye: It is well with us—it is well.
'Tender hand hath made our nest; Our fear is ended, our hope is blended With present pleasure, and we have rest.'—
'Oh, but Robin, I'm fain to come, If your present days are so pleasant; For my days are so wearisome.
'Yet I'll dry my tears for your sake: Why should I tease you, who cannot please you Any more with the pains I take?'