The Intruder

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

There is a smell of roses in the room
Tea-roses, dead of bloom;
An invalid, she sits there in the gloom,
And contemplates her doom.

The pattern of the paper, and the grain
Of carpet, with its stain,
Have stamped themselves, like fever, on her brain,
And grown a part of pain.

It has been long, so long, since that one died,
Or sat there by her side;
She felt so lonely, lost, she would have cried,
But all her tears were dried.

A knock came on the door: she hardly heard;
And then a whispered word,
And someone entered; at which, like a bird,
Her caged heart cried and stirred.

And then she heard a voice; she was not wrong:
His voice, alive and strong:
She listened, while the silence filled with song
Oh, she had waited long!

She dared not turn to see; she dared not look;
But slowly closed her book,
And waited for his kiss; could scarcely brook
The weary time he took.

There was no one remembered her no one!
But him, beneath the sun.
Who then had entered? entered but to shun
Her whose long work was done.

She raised her eyes, and no one! Yet she felt
A presence near, that smelt
Like faded roses; and that seemed to melt
Into her soul that knelt.

She could not see, but knew that he was there,
Smoothing her hands and hair;
Filling with scents of roses all the air,
Standing beside her chair.

And so they found her, sitting quietly,
Her book upon her knee,
Staring before her, as if she could see
What was it Death? or he?

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