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Richard Le Gallienne: Her Portrait Immortal

 

Her Portrait Immortal

Must I believe this beauty wholly gone
That in her picture here so deathless seems,
And must I henceforth speak of her as one
Tells of some face of legend or of dreams,
Still here and there remembered–scarce believed,
Or held the fancy of a heart bereaved.

So beautiful she–was; ah! “was,” say I,
Yet doubt her dead–I did not see her die.
Only by others borne across the sea
Came the incredible wild blasphemy
They called her death–as though it could be true
Of such an immortality as you!

True of these eyes that from her picture gaze,
Serene, star-steadfast, as the heaven’s own eyes;
Of that deep bosom, white as hawthorn sprays,
Where my world-weary head forever lies;
True of these quiet hands, so marble-cool,
Still on her lap as lilies on a pool.

Must I believe her dead–that this sweet clay,
That even from her picture breathes perfume,
Was carried on a fiery wind away,
Or foully locked in the worm-whispering tomb;
This casket rifled, ribald fingers thrust
‘Mid all her dainty treasure–is _this_ dust!

Once such a dewy marvel of a girl,
Warm as the sun, and ivory as the moon;
All gone of her, all lost–except this curl
Saved from her head one summer afternoon,
Tied with a little ribbon from her breast–
This only mine, and Death’s now all the rest.

Must I believe it true! Bid me not go
Where on her grave the English violets blow;
Nay, leave me–if a dream, indeed, it be–
Still in my dream that she is somewhere she,
Silent, as was her wont. It is a lie–
She is not dead–I did not see her die.

Richard Le Gallienne
(1866 – 1947)
Her Portrait Immortal
From: The lonely Dancer and other Poems, 1913

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