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THE DEATH OF POETRY.
They tell us that the poet's day is past,
When Spring comes not in triumph as of yore,
IN AN OLD LIBRARY.
In this old farmhouse garret where I stray,
A refugee from worries of the town,
Through ancient volumes, dusty, worn and brown.
On dingy panes a hornet fumes and frets,
A beetle thumps the wall with sudden thud; A wasp hangs captive in a spider's nets
A dirt-daub, singing, moulds his house of mud.
A mantel holds two antiquated clocks,
Where scampering mice go playing hide-and-seek; A wren, snug-nested in an empty box,
Sits calm and quiet while her fledglings squeak.
Here, like a vein of purest virgin gold
Deep-hidden in the desert rock and sand, Are all the treasures of the days of old,
Brought by the Great and Good from every land.
Here all the friends of youth (for youth alone
Can make the friendships that are sure to last) Soothe once again the heart half turned to stone,
With old enchantments that I thought were past.
IN AN OLD LIBRARY.
Here, like a pirate at his secret cave,
I dig my buried ingots from the junk; And, like a diver, from an ocean grave
I raise the Spanish galleons that I sunk.
Here all the wise sit in serene array,
Where Plato's words flow forth in honeyed sweets; I see the face of Goldsmith and of Gray,
I walk with Shelley and I talk with Keats.
O magic Past, you woo me from To-day;
The frenzied world outside is lost to view. Old friends are best! I tread this quiet way,
Forsaking not the old to win the new.
Like mellow wine in cobwebbed cellars stored,
Here burn the suns of long-forgotten years; To-day I revel in their precious hoard
Of love and laughter, gladness, grief and tears.
The pale white skies hang in an ashen haze,
The far-off hills are veiled in faded blue;
Half hiding teams and wagons straggling through.
Hour after hour the heat grows more intense;
An angry wasp drums on the window pane; A panting peacock on the old rail fence
Peeps at the skies as though he prayed for rain.
An old ox dozes in a weary dream;
Long lines of sheep in patient silence pass; Two horses tread a muddy half-dried stream,
Dust-powdered cattle browse on withered grass.
The passion-vine is withered at the gate,
A sickly rose is falling leaf by leaf; Sunburned and thirsty, faded asters wait
For death to bind them in his yellow sheaf.
The splitted husk flips out its floating down,
The bursting pod shells out its rattling seeds. The pasture is a desert burned to brown,
The garden is a withered waste of weeds.
O let dark clouds like ocean billows roll,
Let mellow thunders throb like muffled drums! Let lightnings rouse the west wind's sleeping soul,
To rush with shouting as the rainstorm comes!
And yet this sickly, sweltering August day
Marks but the place we all must travel soon; This is the end of all the mirth of May,
And this the ending of the joys of June!
When all the zest of youth is on the wane,
We sigh for storm-clouds of the bygone years; The heart cries out in one long prayer for rain
To fall on parching lids in dewy tears.
Above my desert bosom, as of yore,
Once more let lightnings glitter, thunders roll! Drown dusty memories; let there be no more
Drought in the heart, or famine in the soul!