Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VI. Fancy: Sentiment
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VI. Fancy.  1904.
Poems of Sentiment: IV. Thought: Poetry: Books
Broken Music
Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1836–1907)
                         “A note
All out of tune in this world’s instrument.”
—AMY LEVY.    

I KNOW not in what fashion she was made,
  Nor what her voice was, when she used to speak,
Nor if the silken lashes threw a shade
        On wan or rosy cheek.
I picture her with sorrowful vague eyes        5
  Illumed with such strange gleams of inner light
As linger in the drift of London skies
        Ere twilight turns to night.
I know not; I conjecture. ’T was a girl
  That with her own most gentle desperate hand        10
From out God’s mystic setting plucked life’s pearl—
        ’T is hard to understand.
So precious life is! Even to the old
  The hours are as a miser’s coins, and she—
Within her hands lay youth’s unminted gold        15
        And all felicity.
The winged impetuous spirit, the white flame
  That was her soul once, whither has it flown?
Above her brow gray lichens blot her name
        Upon the carven stone.        20
This is her Book of Verses—wren-like notes,
  Shy franknesses, blind gropings, haunting fears;
At times across the chords abruptly floats
        A mist of passionate tears.
A fragile lyre too tensely keyed and strung,        25
  A broken music, weirdly incomplete:
Here a proud mind, self-baffled and self-stung,
        Lies coiled in dark defeat.

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