Classic and Contemporary Poetry
THE OLD GUITAR, by JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY Poet's Biography
First Line: Neglected now is the old guitar
Last Line: Like that of the old guitar!
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson Of Boone, Benj. F.
Subject(s): Aging; Guitars; Memory; Music & Musicians
Neglected now is the old guitar
And moldering into decay;
Fretted with many a rift and scar
That the dull dust hides away,
While the spider spins a silver star
In its silent lips to-day.
The keys hold only nerveless strings --
The sinews of brave old airs
Are pulseless now; and the scarf that clings
So closely here declares
A sad regret in its ravelings
And the faded hue it wears.
But the old guitar, with a lenient grace,
Has cherished a smile for me;
And its features hint of a fairer face
That comes with a memory
Of a flower-and-perfume-haunted place
And a moonlit balcony.
Music sweeter than words confess,
Or the minstrel's powers invent,
Thrilled here once at the light caress
Of the fairy hands that lent
This excuse for the kiss I press
On the dear old instrument.
The rose of pearl with the jeweled stem
Still blooms; and the tiny sets
In the circle all are here; the gem
In the keys, and the silver frets;
But the dainty fingers that danced o'er them --
Alas for the heart's regrets! --
Alas for the loosened strings to-day,
And the wounds of rift and scar
On a worn old heart, with its roundelay
Enthralled with a stronger bar
That Fate weaves on, through a dull decay
Like that of the old guitar!
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