A Street Of Ghosts.

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

The drowsy day, with half-closed eyes,
Dreams in this quaint forgotten street,
That, like some old-world wreckage, lies,
Left by the sea's receding beat,
Far from the city's restless feet.

Abandoned pavements, that the trees'
Huge roots have wrecked, whose flagstones feel
No more the sweep of draperies;
And sunken curbs, whereon no wheel
Grinds, nor the gallant's spur-bound heel.

Old houses, walled with rotting brick,
Thick-creepered, dormered, weather-vaned,
Like withered faces, sad and sick,
Stare from each side, all broken paned,
With battered doors the rain has stained.

And though the day be white with heat,
Their ancient yards are dim and cold;
Where now the toad makes its retreat,
'Mid flower-pots green-caked with mold,
And naught but noisome weeds unfold.

The slow gray slug and snail have trailed
Their slimy silver up and down
The beds where once the moss-rose veiled
Rich beauty; and the mushroom brown
Swells where the lily tossed its crown.

The shadowy scents, that haunt and flit
Along the walks, beneath the boughs,
Seem ghosts of sweethearts here who sit,
Or wander 'round each empty house,
Wrapped in the silence of dead vows.

And, haply, when the evening droops
Her amber eyelids in the west,
Here one might hear the swish of hoops,
Or catch the glint of hat or vest,
As two dim lovers past him pressed.

And, instant as some star's slant flame,
That scores the swarthy cheek of night,
Perhaps behold Colonial dame
And gentleman in stately white
Go glimmering down the pale moonlight.

In powder, patch, and furbelow,
Cocked-hat and sword; and every one,
Tory and whig of long ago,
As real as in the days long done,
The courtly days of Washington.

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