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!