Richard Le Gallienne

(1866-1947 / England)

Ballade Of The Absent Guest - Poem by Richard Le Gallienne

Friends whom to-night once more I greet,
Most glad am I with you to be,
And, as I look around, I meet
Many a face right good to see;
But one I miss--ah! where is he?--
Of merry eye and sparkling jest,
Who used to brim my glass for me;
I drink--in what?--the Absent Guest.

Low lies he in his winding-sheet,
By organized hypocrisy
Hurled from his happy wine-clad seat,
Stilled his kind heart and hushed his glee;
His very name daren't mention we,
That good old friend who brought such zest,
And set our tongues and spirits free:
I drink--in what?--the Absent Guest.

No choice to-night 'twixt 'dry' or 'sweet,'
'Twixt red or white, 'twixt Rye,--ah! me--
Or Scotch--and think! we live to see't--
No whispered word, nor massive fee,
Nor even influenza plea,
Can raise a bubble; but, as best
We may, we make our hollow spree:
I drink--in what?--the Absent Guest.


Friends, good is coffee, good is tea,
And water has a charm unguessed--
And yet--that brave old deity!
I drink--in tears--the Absent Guest.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010

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