Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE QUEEN FORGETS, by GEORGE STERLING



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THE QUEEN FORGETS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: What came before and afterward
Last Line: On the chill blade.
Subject(s): Courts & Courtiers; Royal Court Life; Royalty; Kings; Queens


What came before and afterward
(She said) I do not know;
But I remember well a night
In a life long ago.

What spoil was I of Egypt sacked?
Of what old war the pledge?
Around my tent whose army lay,
At the great desert's edge?

A maiden, or a Satrap's wife,
A slave or queen was I
Who saw that night the steady stars
Go down the living sky?

And saw against the heavenly ranks
How one stood watch and ward.
Black on the stars he stood, and leaned
On a cross-hilted sword.

There was no sound in all the camp
But when a stallion neighed . . .
I saw the light of Sirius
On the cold blade.

Downward, above a single palm,
Slowly the great star crept;
More motionless my sentry stood,
As silently I wept.

What wrath had Libya for my loss?
In Syria what tears?
What king or swineherd cursed his god
In those forgotten years?

The tale is not in tapestry;
The grey monks do not know . . .
Only its shadow touches me
From out the long ago.

Of terror and of tenderness
Is that far vigil made,
And the green light of Sirius
On the chill blade.




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