Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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

The Beautiful Blue Danube


They drift down the hall together;
He smiles in her lifted eyes.
Like waves of that mighty river
The strains of the ‘Danube’ rise.
They float on its rhythmic measure,
Like leaves on a summer stream;
And here, in this scene of pleasure,
I bury my sweet dead dream.

Through the cloud of her dusky tresses,
Like a star, shines out her face;
And the form of his strong arm presses
Is sylph-like in its grace.
As a leaf on the bounding river
Is lost in the seething sea,
I know that for ever and ever
My dream is lost to me.

And still the viols are playing
That grand old wordless rhyme;
And still those two are swaying
In perfect tune and time.
If the great bassoons that mutter,
If the clarinets that blow,
Were given the chance to utter
The secret things they know.

Would the lists of the slain who slumber
On the Danube’s battle-plains
The unknown hosts outnumber
Who die ‘neath the ‘Danube’s’ strains?
Those fall where the cannons rattle,
‘Mid the rain of shot and shell;
But these, in a fiercer battle,
Find death in the music’s swell.

With the river’s roar of passion
Is blended the dying groan;
But here, in the halls of fashion,
Hearts break, and make no moan.
And the music, swelling and sweeping,
Like the river, knows it all;
But none are counting or keeping
The lists of those who fall.

Submitted: Friday, May 23, 2003

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