A post-war maiden
(To Agnes Birrell)
Anthony M. Ludovici
The Northern Review 1, 1924, p. 170
Reprinted in The Taming of Don Juan, pp. 56
She has no guile or blandishments,
Her hands hang loosely down
Like ormolu embellishments
Upon her simple gown.
Her quiv'ring lashes soar like birds
Above two lakes of blue;
Her lips withhold a thousand words
Of love too wild for you.
Her hair, a ripe entanglement
About her neck and brow,
Would seem a mute acknowledgment
That she is ready now.
Aye, ready and prepared for all!
But all alas are dead!
And now before the village hall
A stone stands in their stead.
If Death required disparagement,
If War e'er craved a curse,
She'd need but scant encouragement
To give them both and worse!
But they, the dead, can hope no more:
Their wishes all have ceased.
What care they for the friendly door
That beckons to the feast?
From Life, what cruel banishment
For one so rich and fair,
To hold this sweet establishment
For guests that are not there!
And ev'rybody bows his head
Before the village hall;
For there the emblem of the dead
Stands manifest to all.
But who without astonishment
Could see a trav'ler bow
Before the anguish vehement
Upon a lady's brow?
Far better to have died like them
Than thus to turn to naught
The fairest maiden's diadem
That e'er the great gods wrought.
For dead hopes have no monument,
And wasted hearts no cross,
To plead in silent argument
A yet more silent loss.