Ballade of the Lost Refrain

In a vacant mood the phrase came to me —
Alas! I neglected to make it mine —
It may have been jocund, or deep and gloomy:
It is gone, and has left no trace or sign.
It is gone, and it might have been the line
That in all men's memories would remain:
It is vanished, and never again will shine —
O lovely lyrical lost refrain!

Though Apollo's golden sandal shoe me,
Dionysos pour me his purpling wine,
That forgotten snatch will still pursue me
And chafe my spirit and chill my spine;
For lo! when one of the Muses nine,
Descending, stoops to a clownish brain,
She expects him to note the hint divine —
O lovely lyrical lost refrain!

And now — no wonder my joints are rheumy
And I am listless to laugh or dine,
And my lightsome friends say they never knew me
So dolorobiliously peak and pine;
But I have no mnemonics than can untwine
That line so musical, terse, urbane,
Chryselephant, nympholept, sapphirine —
O lovely lyrical lost refrain!


O Muse (as Rosalind said), come woo me!
My sorrowful heart you may soothe and sain,
But never again will that thrill run through me —
O lovely lyrical lost refrain!
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