(TO JAMES WELCH)
Dear Desk, Farewell! I spoke you oft
In phrases neither sweet nor soft,
But at the end I come to see
That thou a friend hast been to me,
No flatterer but very friend.
For who shall teach so well again
The blessed lesson-book of pain,
The truth that souls that would aspire
Must bravely face the scourge and fire,
If they would conquer in the end?
Shall I not hug thee very close?
And then we part upon our ways.
Who shall possess thee after me?
O pray he be no enemy to poesy,
To gentle maid or gentle dream.
How have we dreamed together, I and thou,
Sweet dreams that like some incense wrapt us round
The last new book, the last new love,
The last new trysting-ground.
How many queens have ruled and passed
Since first we met; how thick and fast
The letters used to come at first, how thin at last;
Then ceased, and winter for a space!
Until another hand
Brought spring into the land,
And went the seasons' pace.
And now, Dear Desk, thou knowest for how long time
I have no queen but song:
Yea, thou hast seen the last love fade, and now
Behold the last of many a secret rhyme!