On a fair afternoon, ere the rise of the moon,
That though clouded was still bright and cheerful,
Did we gather to stand on a circle of sand,
We, the bride and the groom, shy and fearful,
Yet still laughing and gay at the cause of the day-
And with flowers her crown, she amazes-
But mine heart, though 'tis burning, is nervously churning,
As fell fear its sore-ugly head raises.

In the circle we stand, set hand upon hand
And the watchers around us are staring.
"Kiss the bride!" So they cry, as beset is the sky
With the clouds of my cowardice flaring.
Still I stall in my fear- and yet stands she so near!
On her face I behold such perfection.
In mine heart is desire- aye, bright is the fire!
Yet to seize it escapes mine election.

So I stand like a brute in the vice of the flute,
Like a snake caught in conjuror's chanting.
There I am: so I stall, so I stay, so I fall,
All mine olden-time courage recanting.
As I hold to my place, I see fear on her face,
But desire's there too: can I meet it?
But away now she runs, and a thousand hot suns
Of deep shame hold my face: I'm defeated.

But to her now I bound, that my courage be found:
On the road by the river I hasten.
There is fear in mine heart: I must rend it apart,
So I run, and my cowardice chasten.
But at last when she's caught, still the battle's not fought,
And the fiend as of yet is unbroken:
Still I stall in my fright, in the dark of the night,
Though 'tis day: for the demon has spoken.

So I stand in my place, and I look to her face,
And the darkness of fear overtaketh.
Now's the chance to take hold, to be strong, to be bold:
But my courage so quickly abateth:
I look to my love, and the sound of the dove
Fills mine heart e'er-untouched with desire;
But then fear wins the day. I in shame look away
And stay stuck in the demon-wrought mire.

So I stand like a brute in the vice of the flute,
Like a snake caught in conjuror's chanting.
There I am: so I stall, so I stay, so I fall,
All mine olden-time courage recanting…