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  ― 26 ―

Ballade of Bitter Memories

WE build and gather, in vain, in vain,
Tempests of Chance with our castles play,
The weevil winnows the gold o' the grain,
Gold o' the morning glooms to the grey.
Shall we weep for our idols of painted clay,
Salt dews of sorrow the sere blooms wetting?
Nay, gods of the desert of Dreadful Day,
Give us the gift of a great forgetting!

The hemlock cup to the dregs we drain,
But the lotus islands beyond the bay
On the purple twilight are scarce a stain,
And the fairy boatmen are far away;
Baffled and blind and athirst we pray!
From the fitful fever and slow blood-sweating,
Gods of the desert of Dreadful Day,
Give us the gift of a great forgetting!

A twisted shard and a rusted chain,
A dying camp-fire beside the way,
A smoke-wreath blown to the blue of the plain,
A swan-song flung to the vast for aye—
Was it spectral hands on the strings astray,
Or a wistful wind at the casement fretting?
Gods of the desert of Dreadful Day,
Give us the gift of a great forgetting!

Youth is a trust that the years bewray,
Life is a canvas of Fate's vignetting—
Gods of the desert of Dreadful Day,
Give us the gift of a great forgetting!

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