Ballade Of The Dead Face That Never Dies

A poem by Richard Le Gallienne

The peril of fair faces all his days
No man shall 'scape: be it for joy or woe,
Each is the thrall of some predestined face
Divinely doomed to work his overthrow,
Transiently fair, as flowers in gardens blow,
Then fade, and charm no more our listless eyes;
But some fair faces ever fairer grow -
Beware of the dead face that never dies.

No snare young beauty for thy manhood lays,
No honeyed kiss the girls of Paphos know,
Shall hold thee as the silent smiling ways
Of her that went - yet only seemed to go -
With April blossoms and with last year's snow;
Each year she comes again in subtler guise,
And beckons us to her green bed below -
Beware of the dead face that never dies.

The living fade before her lunar gaze,
Her phantom youth their ruddy veins out-glow,
She lays cold fingers on the lips that praise
Aught save her lovely face of long ago;
Oblivious poppies all in vain we sow
Before the opening gates of Paradise;
There shalt thou find her pacing to and fro -
Beware of the dead face that never dies.


ENVOI

Prince, take thy fill of love, for even so
Sad men grow happy and no other wise;
But love the quick - and as thy mortal foe
Beware of the dead face that never dies.

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