Before delving into the mechanics and meaning of this song, let us take a moment to enjoy its misty, Impressionistic loveliness.
Here we have another dream song, like "The Sound of Silence." Another song about lying in bed next to a beautiful woman, like "Wednesday Morning." Here again are the image of walking alone down village "streets," the glow of "lamplight," the church bells from "Bleeker Street" and other songs.
And yet, how unlike these other songs in tone. The song is rapturous in its passion. Simon's other love songs are about leaving love ("Wednesday Morning"), losing love ("We've Got a Groovey Thing Goin'"), distant love ("Kathy's Song," "Homeward Bound"), dying love ("April Come She Will"), regretted love ("I am A Rock," "Dangling Conversation"), and even unregetted love ("Scarborough Fair").
This may be his first song about actively being in love. He dreams he is alone, and then in his dream he finds his lover. He wakes, and there is she is; he is so "grateful" that he is moved to "tears."
Some vocabulary: "Organdy" is a sheer, stiff, easily worked-with cotton cloth that can be embossed with a pressed-in pattern like stationery; "crinoline" is another stiff fabric, made of interwoven horsehair and linen, favored for hoop skirts. Burgundy is a region of France, known for its red wine, but here it is the color of that wine, purple-tinged red. The overall effect of these words calls to mind the French court or nobility of bygone days. Note that it is the "dream" that is associated with these clothes, not Emily herself. "Juniper" is a plant, a berry-bearing plant that has both woody, tree-like varieties and ones that cover the ground in spreading tendrils. If these are "fields of juniper" then the juniper here is most likely the low-lying sort.
One could dissect the imagery of French clothing, church bells, and "frosted fields"-- and the dichotomy proposed by the idea of the lover being "near" in the song... yet lost, according to the title.
But perhaps the best approach to this song is to simply allow its ethereal images and Garfunkel's lovely, wafting vocals to seep like mist into one's mind. Like seeing a Monet, lying next to one's love, or dreaming, this glowing song is likely better felt than thought.
Next Song: "7 O'clock News/Silent Night."