Eos: An Epic of the Dawn, and Other Poems

By Nicholas Flood Davin


 

MASKS AND FACES.


 

The features of the fairest face
    Are little more than signs,
And but of ugliness the mask,
If they don’t find their highest task,
In telling of a higher grace
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    That in the soul’s face shines.

Bright eyes of blue, or grey, or jet,
    Or lovelier still thine own,
Grow dim as chambers of the night,
If they’re not fed with living light,
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A mental sun which cannot set,
    Till life’s red leaves are blown.

And when those leaves are scatter’d wide,
    The frost-bit branches sere,
The garden one cold wint’ry scene.
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The abounding rose but what has been,
The lily fair but what has died,
    And all is bleak and drear;

O! in that desert hour—what then?
    Let beauty mourn; that glass,
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Which of its lot could one day brag,
But renders back a wrinkled hag;
    Let genius know for other men
    His wand was made and pass. [Page 110]

But whither? O the cruel god
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    Whose silent wheels sweep past!
Rest! rest brave heart—the shadows grow,
And cold and colder lies the snow,
And soft and softer press the sods,
    And you have peace at last.
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What matters now vile Slander’s hissing?
    The venom’d deadly dart?
That heads grew drunk to gaze on forms,
Which since have proved cold joints for worms?
That lips were red for kissing,
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    That heart beat wild for heart?

What thoughts built up the soul, what made
    The music of the breast—
This, this alone concerns you now,
And Beauty’s smile, and Fame’s large brow
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Are but as wiles of some wild jade,
    Whose smile’s a common pest. [Page 111]