"A Ghost of Yesterday"


Madison Cawein


There is a house beside a way,
Where dwells a ghost of Yesterday:
The old face of a beauty, faded,
Looks from its garden: and the shaded
Long walks of locust-trees, that seem
Forevermore to sigh and dream,
Keep whispering low a word that's true,
Of shapes that haunt its avenue,
Clad as in days of belle and beau,
Who come and go
Around its ancient portico.
At first, in stock and beaver-hat,
With flitting of the moth and bat,
An old man, leaning on a cane,
Comes slowly down the locust lane;
Looks at the house; then, groping, goes
Into the garden where the rose
Still keeps sweet tryst with moth and moon;
And, humming to himself a tune,
"Lorena" or "Ben Bolt" we'll say,
Waits, bent and gray,
For some fair ghost of Yesterday.
The Yesterday that holds his all
More real to him than is the wall
Of mossy stone near which he stands,
Still reaching out for her his hands
For her, the girl, who waits him there, 
A lace-gowned phantom, dark of hair, 
Whose loveliness still keeps those walks, 
And with whose Memory he talks; 
Upon his heart her happy head,
So it is said,
The girl, now half a century dead.


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