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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE WANDERER: 2. IN FRANCE: AT HOME AFTER THE BALL, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The clocks are calling three
Last Line: Some women have gone mad.
Alternate Author Name(s): Meredith, Owen; Lytton, 1st Earl Of; Lytton, Robert
Subject(s): France; Travel; Journeys; Trips

THE clocks are calling Three
Across the silent floors.
The fire in the library
Dies out; through the open doors
The red empty room you may see.

In the nursery, up stairs,
The child had gone to sleep,
Half-way 'twixt dreams and prayers,
When the hall-door made him leap
To its thunders unawares.

Like love in a worldly breast,
Alone in my lady's chamber,
The lamp burns low, supprest
'Mid satins of broidered amber,
Where she stands, half undrest:

Her bosom all unlaced:
Her cheeks with a bright red spot:
Her long dark hair displaced,
Down streaming, heeded not,
From her white throat to her waist:

She stands up her full height,
With her ball-dress slipping down her,
And her eyes as fixed and bright
As the diamond stars that crown her, --
An awful, beautiful sight.

Beautiful, yes ... with her hair
So wild, and her cheeks so flusht!
Awful, yes ... for there
In her beauty she stands husht
By the pomp of her own despair!

And fixt there, without doubt,
Face to face with her own sorrow,
She will stand, till, from without,
The light of the neighboring morrow
Creeps in, and finds her out.

With last night's music pealing
Youth's dirges in her ears:
With last night's lamps revealing,
In the charnels of old years,
The face of each dead feeling.

Ay, Madam, here alone
You may think, till your heart is broken,
Of the love that is dead and done,
Of the days that, with no token,
Forevermore are gone. --

Weep if you can, beseech you!
There 's no one by to curb you:
Your child's cry cannot reach you:
Your lord will not disturb you:
Weep! ...What can weeping teach you!

Your tears are dead in you.
"What harm, where all things change,"
You say, "if we change too?
-- The old still sunny Grange!
Ah, that's far off i' the dew.

"Were those not pleasant hours,
Ere I was what I am?
My garden of fresh flowers!
My milk-white weanling lamb!
My bright laburnum bowers!

"The orchard walls so trim!
The redbreast in the thorn!
The twilight soft and dim!
The child's heart! eve and morn,
So rich with thoughts of him!"

Hush! your weanling lamb is dead:
Your garden trodden over.
They have broken the farm shed:
They have buried your first lover
With the grass above his head.

Has the Past, then, so much power,
You dare take not from the shelf
That book with the dry flower,
Lest it make you hang yourself
For being yourself for an hour?

Why can't you let thought be
For even a little while?
There's nought in memory
Can bring you back the smile
Those lips have lost. Just see,

Here what a costly gem
To-night in your hair you wore --
Pearls on a diamond stem!
When sweet things are no more,
Better not think of them.

Are you saved by pangs that pained you,
Is there comfort in all it cost you,
Before the world had gained you,
Before that God had lost you,
Or your soul had quite disdained you?

For your soul (and this is worst
To bear, as you well know)
Has been watching you, from first,
As sadly as God could do;
And yourself yourself have curst.

Talk of the flames of Hell!
We fuel ourselves, I conceive,
The fire the Fiend lights. Well,
Believe or disbelieve,
We know more than we tell!

Surely you need repose!
To-morrow again -- the Ball.
And you must revive the rose
In your cheek, to bloom for all.
Not go? ...why the whole world goes.

To bed! to bed! 'T is sad
To find that Fancy's wings
Have lost the hues they had.
In thinking of these things
Some women have gone mad.

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