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"Once . . . Once upon a time . . ."

Over and over again,

Martha would tell us her stories,

In the hazel glen.


Hers were those clear gray eyes

You watch, and the story seems

Told by their beautifulness

Tranquil as dreams.


She'd sit with her two slim hands

Clasped round her bended knees;

While we on our elbows lolled,

And stared at ease.


Her voice and her narrow chin,

Her grave small lovely head,

Seemed half the meaning

Of the words she said.


"Once . . . Once upon a time . . ."

Like a dream you dream in the night,

Fairies and gnomes stole out

In the leaf-green light.


And her beauty far away

Would fade, as her voice ran on,

Till hazel and summer sun

And all were gone:


All fordone and forgot;

And like clouds in the height of the sky,

Our hearts stood still in the hush

Of an age gone by.


Walter de la Mare

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