Ella Wheeler Wilcox (5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919 / Johnstown Center / Rock County / Wisconsin)
Well, how has it been with you since we met
That last strange time of a hundred times?
When we met to swear that we could forget—
I your caresses, and you my rhymes—
The rhyme of my lays that rang like a bell,
And the rhyme of my heart with yours, as well?
How has it been since we drank that last kiss,
That was bitter with lees of the wasted wine,
When the tattered remains of a threadbare bliss,
And the worn-out shreds of a joy divine,
With a year's best dreams and hopes, were cast
Into the rag-bag of the Past?
Since Time, the rag-buyer, hurried away,
With a chuckle of glee at a bargain made,
Did you discover, like me, one day,
That, hid in the folds of those garments frayed,
Were priceless jewels and diadems—
The soul's best treasures, the heart's best gems?
Have you, too, found that you could not supply
The place of those jewels so rare and chaste?
Do all that you borrow or beg or buy
Prove to be nothing but skilful paste?
Have you found pleasure, as I found art,
Not all-sufficient to fill your heart?
Do you sometimes sigh for the tattered shreds
Of the old delight that we cast away,
And find no worth in the silken threads
Of newer fabrics we wear to-day?
Have you thought the bitter of that last kiss
Better than sweets of a later bliss?
What idle queries!—or yes or no—
Whatever your answer, I understand
That there is no pathway by which we can go
Back to the dead past's wonderland;
And the gems he purchased from me, from you,
There is no rebuying from Time, the Jew
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