Bagatelle
Thalia
 

A MIDDLE-AGED LYRICAL POET IS SUPPOSED TO BE TAKING
FINAL LEAVE OF THE MUSE OF COMEDY. SHE HAS
BROUGHT HIM HIS HAT AND GLOVES, AND IS
ABSTRACTEDLY PICKING A THREAD OF GOLD HAIR
FROM HIS COAT SLEEVE AS HE BEGINS TO SPEAK:

I say it under the rose--
        oh, thanks!--yes, under the laurel,
We part lovers, not foes;
        we are not going to quarrel.

We have too long been friends
        on foot and in gilded coaches,
Now that the whole thing ends,
        to spoil our kiss with reproaches.

I leave you; my soul is wrung;
        I pause, look back from the portal--
Ah, I no more am young,
        and you, child, you are immortal!

Mine is the glacier's way,
        yours is the blossom's weather--
When were December and May
        known to be happy together?

Before my kisses grow tame,
        before my moodiness grieve you,
While yet my heart is flame,
        and I all lover, I leave you.

So, in the coming time,
        when you count the rich years over,
Think of me in my prime,
        and not as a white-haired lover,

Fretful, pierced with regret,
        the wraith of a dead Desire
Thrumming a cracked spinet
        by a slowly dying fire.

When, at last, I am cold--
        years hence, if the gods so will it--
Say, "He was true as gold,"
        and wear a rose in your fillet!

Others, tender as I,
        will come and sue for caresses,
Woo you, win you, and die--
        mind you, a rose in your tresses!

Some Melpomene woo,
        some hold Clio the nearest;
You, sweet Comedy--you
        were ever sweetest and dearest!

Nay, it is time to go--
        when writing your tragic sister
Say to that child of woe
        how sorry I was I missed her.

Really, I cannot stay,
        though "parting is such sweet sorrow" . . .
Perhaps I will, on my way
        down-town, look in to-morrow!