University of Virginia Library


Beyond the cornfields and the wood,
Nestling beneath the hill
In the old days a cottage stood,
Beside a ruined mill.
And often on the edge of dark
I lingered in the lane,
Until a candle's welcome spark
Shone in the window pane.
Long years have gone, tonight once more
Beside the foot-worn stile,
In the old lane as oft before
I wait, and dream awhile.
Above the pines one lonely star
Shines like her casement—lit
But far away—Alas! Too far
For her to open it.
Fond dream! My longing eyes beguiled,—
Yet must I turn again,
And like a little lonely child
Stretch out my arms in vain!
The moon is but a clouded disc,
Only the star shines bright,
To me it seems God's Asterisk
Upon the page of night.


O love of happy days long past
My task is nearly done
Faithful to thee, till life at last
Be ended,—and begun!

Enclosed in a letter to Alice Ruth Moore dated May 23, 1897. Paul Laurence Dunbar Collection, series 10, box 22, OHS. Quoted by permission. (The letter is reproduced in full in Martin and Hudson's Paul Laurence Dunbar Reader.)