William Dean Howells

1837-1920 / United States

Caprice

SHE hung the cage at the window;
'If he goes by,' she said,
'He will hear my robin singing,
And when he lifts his head,
I shall be sitting here to sew,
And he will bow to me, I know.'

The robin sang a love-sweet song,
The young man raised his head;
The maiden turned away and blushed:
'I am a fool!' she said,
And went on 'broidering in silk
A pink-eyed rabbit, white as milk.

The young man loitered slowly
By the house three times that day;
She took her bird from the window:
'He need not look this way.'
She sat at her piano long,
And sighed, and played a death-sad song.

But when the day was done, she said,
'I wish that he would come!
Remember, Mary, if he calls
To-night -- I'm not at home.'
So when he rang, she went -- the elf! --
She went and let him in herself.

They sang full long together
Their songs love-sweet, death-sad;
The robin woke from his slumber,
And rang out, clear and glad.
'Now go!' she coldly said; ' 'tis late';
And followed him -- to latch the gate.

He took the rosebud from her hair,
While, 'You shall not!' she said;
He closed her hand within his own,
And, while her tongue forbade,
Her will was darkened in the eclipse
Of blinding love upon his lips.
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