When Day Was Done

For L. W.

THE clouds that watched in the west have fled;
The sun has set and the moon is high;
And nothing is left of the day that is dead
Save a fair white ghost in the eastern sky.

While the day was dying we knelt and yearned,
And hoped and prayed till its last breath died;
But since to a radiant ghost it has turned,
Shall we rest with that white grace satisfied?

The fair ghost smiles with a pale, cold smile,
As mocking as life and as hopeless as death —
Shall passionless beauty like this beguile?
Who loves a ghost without feeling or breath?

I remember a maiden as fair to see,
Who once was alive, with a heart like June;
She died, but her spirit wanders free,
And charms men's souls to the old mad tune.

Warm she was, in her life's glad day, —
Warm and fair, and faithful and sweet;
A man might have thrown a kingdom away
To kneel and love at her girlish feet.

But the night came down, and her day was done;
Hoping and dreaming were over for aye;
And then her career as a ghost was begun —
Cold she shone, like the moon on high.

For maiden or moon shall a live man yearn?
Shall a breathing man love a ghost without breath?
Shine, moon, and chill us, you cannot burn;
Go home, Girl-Ghost, to your kingdom of death.
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