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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Desiderium
By Edmund Gosse (1849–1928)
 
From ‘On Viol and Flute’

SIT there for ever, dear, and lean
  In marble as in fleeting flesh,
Above the tall gray reeds that screen
  The river when the breeze is fresh;
For ever let the morning light        5
Stream down that forehead broad and white,
And round that cheek for my delight.
 
Already that flushed moment grows
  So dark, so distant; through the ranks
Of scented reed the river flows,        10
  Still murmuring to its willowy banks;
But we can never hope to share
Again that rapture fond and rare,
Unless you turn immortal there.
 
There is no other way to hold        15
  These webs of mingled joy and pain;
Like gossamer their threads enfold
  The journeying heart without a strain,—
Then break, and pass in cloud or dew,
And while the ecstatic soul goes through,        20
Are withered in the parching blue.
 
Hold, Time, a little while thy glass,
  And Youth, fold up those peacock wings!
More rapture fills the years that pass
  Than any hope the future brings;        25
Some for to-morrow rashly pray,
And some desire to hold to-day,
But I am sick for yesterday.
 
Since yesterday the hills were blue
  That shall be gray for evermore,        30
And the fair sunset was shot through
  With color never seen before!
Tyrannic Love smiled yesterday,
And lost the terrors of his sway,
But is a god again to-day.        35
 
Ah, who will give us back the past?
  Ah woe, that youth should love to be
Like this swift Thames that speeds so fast,
  And is so fain to find the sea,—
That leaves this maze of shadow and sleep,        40
These creeks down which blown blossoms creep,
For breakers of the homeless deep.
 
Then sit for ever, dear, in stone,
  As when you turned with half a smile,
And I will haunt this islet lone,        45
  And with a dream my tears beguile;
And in my reverie forget
That stars and suns were made to set;
That love grows cold, or eyes are wet.
 
 
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