The Son of Melancholy

Unto blest Melancholy's house one happy day
I took my way:
Into a chamber was shown, whence could be seen
Her flowerless garden, dyed with sunlit green
Of myrtle, box, and bay.

Cool were its walls, shade-mottled, green and gold.
In heavy fold
Hung antique tapestries, from whose fruit and flower
Light had the bright hues stolen, hour by hour,
And time worn thin and old.

Silence, as of a virginal laid aside,
Did there abide.
But not for voice or music was I fain,
Only to see a long-loved face again —
For her sole company sighed.

And while I waited, giving memory praise,
My musing gaze
Lit on the one sole picture in the room,
Which hung, as if in hiding, in the gloom
From evening's stealing rays.

Framed in fast-fading gilt, a child gazed there,
Lovely and fair;
A face whose happiness was like sunlight spent
On some poor desolate soul in banishment,
Mutely his grief to share.

Long, long I stood in trance of that glad face,
Striving to trace
The semblance that, disquieting, it bore
To one whom memory could not restore,
Nor fix in time and space.

Sunk deep in brooding thus, a voice I heard
Whisper its word:
I turned — and, stooping in the threshold, stood
She — the dark mistress of my solitude,
Who smiled, nor stirred.

Her ghost gazed darkly from her pondering eyes
Charged with surmise;
Challenging mine, between mockery and fear,
She breathed her greeting, " Thou , my only dear!
Wherefore such heavy sighs? "

" But this? " One instant lids her scrutiny veiled;
Her wan cheek paled.
" This child? " I asked. " Its picture brings to mind
Remembrance faint and far, past thought to find,
And yet by time unstaled. "

Smiling, aloof, she turned her narrow head,
" Make thou my face thy glass, " she cried and said.
" What wouldst thou see therein — thine own, or mine?
O foolish one, what wonder thou didst pine?

" Long thou hast loved me; yet hast absent been.
See now: Dark night hath pressed an entrance in.
Jealous! thou dear? Nay, come; by taper's beam
Share thou this pictured Joy with me, though nought but a dream. "
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