Ghosts

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

Was it the strain of the waltz that, repeating
"Love," so bewitched me? or only the gleam
There of the lustres, that set my heart beating,
Feeling your presence as one feels a dream?

For, on a sudden, the woman of fashion,
Soft at my side in her diamonds and lace,
Vanished, and pale with reproach or with passion,
You, my dead sweetheart, smiled up in my face.

Music, the nebulous lights, and the sifting
Fragrance of women made amorous the air;
Born of these three and my thoughts you came drifting,
Clad in dim muslin, a rose in your hair.

There in the waltz, that followed the lancers,
Hard to my breast did I crush you and hold;
Far through the stir and the throng of the dancers
Onward I bore you as often of old.

Pale were your looks; and the rose in your tresses
Paler of hue than the dreams we have lost;--
"Who," then I said, "is it sees or who guesses,
Here in the hall, that I dance with a ghost?"

Gone! And the dance and the music are ended.
Gone! And the rapture dies out of the skies.
And, on my arm, in her elegance splendid,
The woman of fashion smiles up in my eyes.

Had I forgotten? and did you remember?--
You, who are dead, whom I cannot forget;
You, for whose sake all my heart is an ember
Covered with ashes of dreams and regret.

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