A Poet's Second Love

I.

I SHARE your heart with her, its former Queen,
Who taught your lips the song of love to sing —
To whose high altar you were wont to bring
Such laurels as no Fair since Time hath been
Has decked her brow with. Joy was there and teen,
And reverence, as for some most sacred thing
Set high in Heaven for all men's worshipping;
Such laurels gathers no man twice, I ween.

Your second love, ungarlanded, uncrowned —
Fit for life's daily uses, let us say —
Whose lips have never thrilled you with sweet sound,
Hears from the grave your first love's voice, to-day.
With scornful laughter mock her hope to fill
The heart ruled by its earliest sovereign still.

II.

Not mine the spell to charm your lute to song;
A poet you, yet not for me your lays;
You crowned that other woman with your praise,
Lifting your voice to Heaven, triumphant, strong,
And later rhymes might do her laurels wrong;
Should you and I together tread life's ways,
An echo would pursue us from old days,
And men would say — " He loved once, well and long,
So now without great love he is content,
Since she is dead whose praise he used to sing,
And daily needs demand their ailment. " ...
Thus some poor bird, who strives with broken wing
To soar, might stoop — strength gone and glad life spent —
To any hand that his scant food would bring.
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