Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
A Watteau Melody
By Arthur Davison Ficke
 
    OH, let me take your lily hand,
And where the secret star-beams shine
Draw near, to see and understand
Pierrot and Columbine.
 
    Around the fountains, in the dew,        5
Where afternoon melts into night,
With gracious mirth their gracious crew
Entice the shy birds of delight.
 
    Of motley dress and maskèd face,
Of sparkling unrevealing eyes,        10
They track in gentle aimless chase
The moment as it flies.
 
    Their delicate beribboned rout,
Gallant and fair, of light intent,
Weaves through the shadows in and out        15
With infinite artful merriment.
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
    Dear Lady of the lily hand,
Do then our stars so clearly shine
That we, who do not understand,
May mock Pierrot and Columbine?        20
 
    Beyond this garden-grove I see
The wise, the noble and the brave
In ultimate futility
Go down into the grave.
 
    And all they dreamed and all they sought,        25
Crumbled and ashen grown, departs;
And is as if they had not wrought
These works with blood from out their hearts.
 
    The nations fall, the faiths decay,
The great philosophies go by,—        30
And life lies bare, some bitter day,
A charnel that affronts the sky.
 
    The wise, the noble and the brave,—
They saw and solved, as we must see
And solve, the universal grave,        35
The ultimate futility.
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
    Look, where beside the garden-pool
A Venus rises in the grove.
More suave, more debonair, more cool
Than ever burned with Paphian love.        40
 
    ’Twas here the delicate ribboned rout
Of gallants and the fair ones went
Among the shadows in and out
With infinite artful merriment.
 
    Then let me take your lily hand,        45
And let us tread, where starbeams shine,
A dance; and be, and understand
Pierrot and Columbine.
 
 
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