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Alcestis

Not long the living weep above their dead,
And you will grieve, Admetus, but not long.
The winter's silence in these desolate halls
Will break with April's laughter on your lips;
The bees among the flowers, the birds that mate,
The widowed year, grown gaunt with memory
And yearning toward the summer's fruits, will come
With lotus comfort, feeding all your veins.
The vining brier will crawl across my grave,
And you will woo another in my stead.
Those tender, foolish names you called me by,
Your passionate kiss that clung unsatisfied,
The pressure of your hand, when dark night hushed
Life's busy stir, and left us two alone,
Will you remember? or, when dawn creeps in,
And you bend o'er another's pillowed head,
Seeing sleep's loosened hair about her face,
Until her low love-laughter welcomes you,
Will you, down-gazing at her waking eyes,
Forget?
So have I loved you, my Admetus,
I thank the cruel fates who clip my life
To lengthen yours, they tarry not for age
To dim my eye and blanch my cheek, but now
Take me, while my lips are sweet to you
And youth hides yet amid this hair of mine,
Brown in the shadow, golden in the light.
Bend down and kiss me, dying for your sake,
Not gratefully, but sadly, love's farewell;
And if the flowering year's oblivion
Lend a new passion to thy life, far down
In the dim Stygian shadows wandering,
I will not know, but still will cherish there,
Where no change comes, thy love upon my lips.
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Submitted on August 03, 2020

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John Charles McNeill

John Charles McNeill (1874-1907) was a Wake Forest alumni and one of North Carolina's most celebrated poets. His published works include Songs of Merry and Sad and Lyrics From the Cotton Land, the latter of which was published posthumously. more…

All John Charles McNeill poems | John Charles McNeill Books

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