An Afternoon

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An Afternoon
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
From Poems of Cheer (1910)

I am stirred by the dream of an afternoon
Of a perfect day--though it was not June;
The lilt of winds, and the droning tune
   That a busy city was humming.

And a bronze-brown head, and lips like wine
Leaning out through the window-vine
A-list for steps that were maybe mine -
   Eager steps that were coming.

I can see it all, as a dreamer may -
The tender smile on your lips that day,
And the glow on your cheek as we rode away
   Into the golden weather.

And a love-light shone in your eyes of brown -
I swear there did!--as we drove down
The crowded avenue out of the town,
   Through shadowy lanes, together:

Drove out into the sunset-skies
That glowed with wonderful crimson dyes;
And with soul and spirit, and heart and eyes,
   We silently drank their splendour.

But the golden glory that lit the place
Was not alone from the sunset's grace -
For I saw in your fair, uplifted face
   A light that was wondrously tender.

I say I saw it. And yet to-day
I ask myself, in a cynical way,
Was it only a part you had learned to play,
   To see me act the lover?

And I curse myself for a fool. And yet
I would willingly die without one regret
Could I bring back the day whose sun has set -
   And you--and live it over.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1919, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.