The Shadow

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

A shadow glided down the way
Where sunset groped among the trees,
And all the woodland bower, asway
With trouble of the evening breeze.

A shape, it moved with head held down;
I knew it not, yet seemed to know
Its form, its carriage of a clown,
Its raiment of the long-ago.

It never turned or spoke a word,
But fixed its gaze on something far,
As if within its heart it heard
The summons of the evening star.

I turned to it and tried to speak;
To ask it of the thing it saw,
Or heard, beyond Earth's outmost peak
The dream, the splendor, and the awe.

What beauty or what terror there
Still bade its purpose to ascend
Above the sunset's sombre glare,
The twilight and the long day's end.

It looked at me but said no word:
Then suddenly I saw the truth:
This was the call that once I heard
And failed to follow in my youth.

Now well I saw that this was I
My own dead self who walked with me,
Who died in that dark hour gone by
With all the dreams that used to be.

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