Ella Wheeler Wilcox

(5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919 / Johnstown Center / Rock County / Wisconsin)

A Waltz-Quadrille


The band was playing a waltz-quadrille,
I felt as light as a wind-blown feather,
As we floated away, at the caller’s will,
Through the intricate, mazy dance together.
Like mimic armies our lines were meeting,
Slowly advancing, and then retreating,
All decked in their bright array;
And back and forth to the music’s rhyme
We moved together, and all the time
I knew you were going away.

The fold of your strong arm sent a thrill
From heart to brain as we gently glided
Like leaves on the wave of that waltz-quadrille;
Parted, met, and again divided –
You drifting one way, and I another,
Then suddenly turning and facing each other,
Then off in the blithe chasse.
Then airily back to our places swaying,
While every beat of the music seemed saying
That you were going away.

I said to my heart, ‘Let us take our fill
Of mirth, and music, and love, and laughter;
For it all must end with this waltz-quadrille,
And life will never be the same life after.
Oh that the caller might go on calling!
Oh that the music might go on falling
Like a shower of silver spray,
While we whirled on to the vast Forever,
Where no hearts break, and no ties sever,
And no one goes away!

A clamour, a crash, and the band was still,
‘Twas the end of the dream, and the end of the measure:
The last low notes of that waltz-quadrille
Seemed like a dirge o’er the death of Pleasure.
You said good-night, and the spell was over –
Too warm for a friend, and too cold for a lover –
There was nothing else to say;
But the lights looked dim, and the dancers weary,
And the music was sad and the hall was dreary,
After you went away.

Submitted: Friday, May 23, 2003

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  • John Brothers (9/25/2009 8:31:00 AM)

    Brought to mind the magic of dancing with a partner who you know will be gone after this dance-but who you wished would stay with you forever. (Report) Reply

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