The chestnut steed stood by the gate
His noble master’s will to wait,
The woody park so green and bright
Was glowing in the morning light,
The young leaves of the aspen trees
Were dancing in the morning breeze.
The palace door was open wide,
Its lord was standing there,
And his sweet lady by his side
With soft dark eyes and raven hair.
He smiling took her wary hand
And said, ‘No longer here I stand;
My charger shakes his flowing mane
And calls me with impatient neigh.
Adieu then till we meet again,
Sweet love, I must no longer stay.’
‘You must not go so soon,’ she said,
‘I will not say farewell.
The sun has not dispelled the shade
In yonder dewy dell;
Dark shadows of gigantic length
Are sleeping on the lawn;
And scarcely have the birds begun
To hail the summer morn;
Then stay with me a little while,’
She said with soft and sunny smile.
He smiled again and did not speak,
But lightly kissed her rosy cheek,
And fondly clasped her in his arms,
Then vaulted on his steed.
And down the park’s smooth winding road
He urged its flying speed.
Still by the door his lady stood
And watched his rapid flight,
Until he came to a distant wood
That hid him from her sight.
But ere he vanished from her view
He waved to her a last adieu,
Then onward hastily he steered
And in the forest disappeared.
The lady smiled a pensive smile
And heaved a gently sigh,
But her cheek was all unblanched the while
And tearless was her eye.
‘A thousand lovely flowers,’ she said,
‘Are smiling on the plain.
And ere one half of them are dead,
My lord will come again.
The leaves are waving fresh and green
On every stately tree,
And long before they die away
He will return to me!’
Alas! Fair lady, say not so;
Thou canst not tell the weight of woe
That lies in store for thee.
Those flowers will fade, those leaves will fall,
Winter will darken yonder hall;
Sweet spring will smile o’er hill and plain
And trees and flowers will bloom again,
And years will still keep rolling on,
But thy beloved lord is gone.
His absence thou shalt deeply mourn,
And never smile on his return.