The starlight played on the water
As she and I watched,
As the moon hid behind clouds.
When it came out
It showed the choppy surf,
Amid the waves it revealed beings
Beautiful beyond words,
Each of them at once ancient but unaging.
Their sight stopped my breath.

They, four in number, frolicked atop the sea,
Their terra firma.
Then we saw only three, and my love asked me,
"Where did the fourth go?"

"I am here," intoned the nymph,
As behind us she gathered the folds
Of her silver dress woven of waves.
We jumped back, but the nymph grabbed the girl's hand.

"Oh, forgive me; I thought you were one of us.
I would not have come otherwise," she said,
And walked back out to sea.

I turned to my love: "for you are just as beautiful as she."

The ethereal woman turned back then: "I think so too.
Come with me, dear."
She grabbed my lover by the wrist
And led her across the waves.
Then their hands parted,
And I beheld the mistress of my heart
Sink into the depths.
I cried out, but the goddess only smiled.

I visited that shore every night,
In the dead of night,
Calling out to her, hearing no answer.
I stared intently, trying to see to the bottom,
Seeing only the ripples of moonlight, the reflections of the stars.

One night on that shore, sleep overtook me,
And when I woke, I lay amid five figures,
Clothed alike, and radiant alike.
Above me hovered a face I knew
With an ethereal air I knew not.

"I did not die," said my love,
"And I shall outlive many mortals now, and many empires."

The other four left,
And she leaned down close to my ear. "Am I still as beautiful as she?"

"You will not leave me?" I begged her.

"I must; but wait, it will not be long.
The waiting will not be so hard, my love, for it is your only choice."

As she stepped into the sea again,
The water embraced her, as I had in her human days,
And she vanished from my sight, the ocean's beauty now.

I still walk by there every night, for sometimes
I imagine I see her blowing me kisses from afar,
Smiling, compelling me to happiness.
She plays in storms: the thunder does not scare her, or me.
And in my mind, empires rise and fall
While she watches light of heart.

Wa"ter nymph` (?).

1. Myth.

A goddess of any stream or other body of water, whether one of the Naiads, Nereids, or Oceanides.

2. Bot.

A water lily (Nymphaea).


© Webster 1913.

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