Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
1619. Helen
By Edward A. U. Valentine
SHE sits within the white oak hall,
  Hung with the trophies of the chase—
Helen, a stately maid and tall,
  Dark-haired and pale of face;
With drooping lids and eyes that brood,        5
Sunk in the depths of some strange mood,
  She gazes in the fireplace, where
  The oozing pine logs snap and flare,
Wafting the perfume of their native wood.
The wind is whining in the garth,        10
  The leaves are at their dervish rounds,
The flexile flames upon the hearth
  Hang out their tongues like panting hounds.
The fire, I deem, she holds in thrall;
Its red light fawns as she lets fall        15
  Escaloped pine-cones, dried and brown,
  From loose, white hands, till up and down
The colored shadows dye the dusky wall.
The tawny lamp flame tugs its wick;
  Upon the landing of the stair        20
The ancient clock is heard to tick
  In shadows dark as Helen’s hair;
And by a gentle accolade
A squire to languid silence made,
  I lean upon my palms, with eyes        25
  O’er which a rack of fancy flies,
While dreams like gorgeous sunsets flame and fade.
And as I muse on Helen’s face,
  Within the firelight’s ruddy shine,
Its beauty takes an olden grace        30
  Like hers whose fairness was divine;
The dying embers leap, and, lo!
Troy wavers vaguely all aglow,
  And in the north wind leashed without,
  I hear the conquering Argive’s shout;        35
And Helen feeds the flames as long ago!


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