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Richard Le Gallienne: The Lonely Dancer

 

The Lonely Dancer

I had no heart to join the dance,
I danced it all so long ago–
Ah! light-winged music out of France,
Let other feet glide to and fro,
Weaving new patterns of romance
For bosoms of new-fallen snow.

But leave me thus where I may hear
The leafy rustle of the waltz,
The shell-like murmur in my ear,
The silken whisper fairy-false
Of unseen rainbows circling near,
And the glad shuddering of the walls.

Another dance the dancers spin,
A shadow-dance of mystic pain,
And other partners enter in
And dance within my lonely brain–
The swaying woodland shod in green,
The ghostly dancers of the rain;

The lonely dancers of the sea,
Foam-footed on the sandy bar,
The wizard dance of wind and tree,
The eddying dance of stream and star;
Yea, all these dancers tread for me
A measure mournful and bizarre:

An echo-dance where ear is eye,
And sound evokes the shapes of things,
Where out of silence and a sigh
The sad world like a picture springs,
As, when some secret bird sweeps by,
We see it in the sound of wings.

Those human feet upon the floor,
That eager pulse of rhythmic breath,–
How sadly to an unknown shore
Each silver footfall hurryeth;
A dance of autumn leaves, no more,
On the fantastic wind of death.

Fire clasped to elemental fire,
‘Tis thus the solar atom whirls;
The butterfly in aery gyre,
On autumn mornings, swarms and swirls,
In dance of delicate desire,
No other than these boys and girls.

The same strange music everywhere,
The woven paces just the same,
Dancing from out the viewless air
Into the void from whence they came;
Ah! but they make a gallant flare
Against the dark, each little flame!

And what if all the meaning lies
Just in the music, not in those
Who dance thus with transfigured eyes,
Holding in vain each other close;
Only the music never dies,
The dance goes on,–the dancer goes.

A woman dancing, or a world
Poised on one crystal foot afar,
In shining gulfs of silence whirled,
Like notes of the strange music are;
Small shape against another curled,
Or dancing dust that makes a star.

To him who plays the violin
All one it is who joins the reel,
Drops from the dance, or enters in;
So that the never-ending wheel
Cease not its mystic course to spin,
For weal or woe, for woe or weal.

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

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