Lethe

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

I.

There is a scent of roses and spilt wine
Between the moonlight and the laurel coppice;
The marble idol glimmers on its shrine,
White as a star, among a heaven of poppies.
Here all my life lies like a spilth of wine.
There is a mouth of music like a lute,
A nightingale that sigheth to one flower;
Between the falling flower and the fruit,
Where love hath died, the music of an hour.

II.

To sit alone with memory and a rose;
To dwell with shadows of whilom romances;
To make one hour of a year of woes
And walk on starlight, in ethereal trances,
With love's lost face fair as a moon-white rose,
To shape from music and the scent of buds
Love's spirit and its presence of sweet fire,
Between the heart's wild burning and the blood's,
Is part of life and of the soul's desire.

III.

There is a song to silence and the stars,
Between the forest and the temple's arches;
And down the stream of night, like nenuphars,
The tossing fires of the revellers' torches.
Here all my life waits lonely as the stars.
Shall not one hour of all those hours suffice
For resignation God hath given as dower?
Between the summons and the sacrifice
One hour of love, th' eternity of an hour?

IV.

The shrine is shattered and the bird is gone;
Dark is the house of music and of bridal;
The stars are stricken and the storm comes on;
Lost in a wreck of roses lies the idol,
Sad as the memory of a joy that's gone.
To dream of perished gladness and a kiss,
Waking the last chord of love's broken lyre,
Between remembering and forgetting, this
Is part of life and of the soul's desire.

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