Fair Ellen

by Hermann Miller

Fair Ellen was my love, her hair
as gentle as a summer sky,
and I dared not look on her, or there
I’d turn from stone to flesh, and die.

She did no charms as others do,
who practice charms into an art,
but under her brows her eyes were true,
and her eyes cut deep into my heart.

What shall I do, under this young sky,
if my love is not to come to me?
What lamentations shall I cry,
what song shall weep my tears with me?

For while I sang fair Ellen stood—
she wandered lightly, and away,
though I called her the fairest names I could,
and begged her, on my knees, to stay.

I told her the color of her eyes,
and the shape of her shoulders in my arms,
and her head as upon my breast it lies,
when I dream of fair Ellen and her charms.

And she smiled at me, and that smile was pain,
for I saw that fair Ellen loved me not.
She left me stooped in a bitter rain,
and I wept for love till I forgot.

It is many years since, and I forget
what color were her eyes and hair,
but should I see her I’d know her yet,
and remember the names I named her there.


Though he is also learning to love the present, Hermann Miller loves the past, where pain bites less and joy is safe.


Photography by Kenneth Godoy

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