Death and a dirge at midnight;
   Yet never a soul in the house
Heard anything more than the throb and beat
   Of a beautiful waltz of Strauss.

Dead, dead, dead, and staring,
   With a ghastly smile on its face;
But the world saw only laughing eyes
   And roses, and billows of lace.

Floating and whirling together,
   Into the beautiful night,
How little you dreamed of the ghastly thing
   I was hiding away from your sight.

Meeting your dark eyes' splendour,
   Feeling your warm, sweet breath,
How could you know that my passionate heart
   Had died a horrible death?

Died in its fever and fervour,
   Died in its beautiful bloom;
And that waltz of Strauss was a funeral dirge,
   Leading the way to the tomb.

But you held my hand at parting,
   And I smiled back a gay good night;
And you never knew of the ghastly corpse
   I was hiding away from your sight.

Yet whenever I hear the Danube--
   Under its pulsing strain,
I catch the wail of the funeral dirge,
   And my heart dies over again.

Yesterdays. By Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
London: Gay & Hancock, 1916.

Back to Poem Index