See on the grassy river bank in play
Themselves disporting all the livelong day
The sweet Katrina and her Ramion.
And down the wind their voices floated on
To where Katrina’s father at the mill
Sat placid with his pipe. The eve was still;
And ever and anon his glance would fall
Upon the pair when one a name would call,
And ever and anon would fall his glance
Upon their childish caper, merry dance,
And as he looked on Katrina, his pride,
He moved his gaze to Ramion, and sighed.
He was her merry playmate from the farm,
A lovely pair to cherish, safe from harm.
The miller, when his work would let him rest,
Would sit and ponder, grizzled chin on breast,
And watching Katrina would see his love,
Her mother, now with angels up above.
And seeing her so lovely fetched a sigh
And turned they eye of prayer up to the sky
As if to plead that a benignant power
Would keep his child in an unguarded hour.
The days of childhood ripened into youth;
More beautiful Katrina grew, in truth;
And other swains appeared, caught by her glance,
But they ‘gainst Ramion never stood a chance.
The childhood sweethearts grew in mutual love
And each to other more inclined did prove.
And so the miller worked with cheerful will,
And round the old wheel spashed to turn the mill.
And shone the sunlight on the placid pond,
And the two lovers gazed with glances fond
Into each other’s eyes the times they met,
As if they thought their features they’d forget.
But all too soon the rural peace was torn;
The nations were at war, and one chill morn
Came Ramion to say good-bye. The rain
That pattered down was more than matched again
By the fast tears that coursed Katrina’s cheeks.
But Ramion had to go. For several weeks
They kept in contact, then he came to laze
On leave for woeful few but happy days.
Katrina laughed again. Her father smiled,
Though anxiously he watched his darling child.
Came one more parting, last farewells were said;
Katrina lived her days as if half dead,
And as the pageant of the weeks passed by
Turned on their glory a lack-lustre eye.
As died the days and the once joyful sun
Rose late and later as if all were done,
And life itself was slowly withering,
So died Katrina’s spirit; and the spring,
With all its promise of renewal, failed
To warm her cheeks. Instead, they slowly paled
To ashen hue; her heart’s blood ceased to flow,
And out upon the winds her soul did go.
Her father watched, a broken man, alone
And helpless: in his breast his heart a stone.
Scarce had her eyes closed on her last sad look,
And scarce her breath its human home forsook,
Than up the river bank there came a cry;
Ramion, back! His voice leapt to the sky,
As up he rode, his charger flecked with foam,
And burst into his life-long sweetheart’s home.
Her father raised his head to where he stood,
Panting and laughing, garbed in radiant mood.
He saw the laughing eyes, the gleaming sword,
The lowered his gaze and uttered ne’er a word.
Ramion checked, and then he took a pace
Into the room and gazed upon her face.
The room was still; only the river sang,
Until a sword upon a scabbard rang,
And flashing like a ray from out the west
It plunged into the lover’s heaving breast,
Plunged and returned not. Full upon the bed
Fell, in a crimson spray, Ramion dead.
And now the miller too lies in the mould
The mill is silent and hearth is cold.
Ruin and desolation now are found
Where love and laughter did one time abound.
But when the miller, crazed with shock and grief,
Arose to totter forth, his life was brief;
They took his body from the stream below
And marvelled at the suddenness of woe.
The mill was left, for no one came to work
Where spirits of the dead were said to lurk;
For surely in the evening when the sun
Dips to the west, so do the stories run,
There can be heard the shouts of merry play
Until the night descends in shadows gray
And with its kindly veils obscures the scene
Where tragedy o’ertook what might have been.