Eight Harvard Poets/The Fiddler

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For works with similar titles, see The Fiddler.

THE FIDDLER


ONCE more I thought I heard him plain,
That unseen fiddler in the lane,
Under the timid twilight moon,
Playing his visionary strain.

No other soul was in the place
As up the hill I came apace;
Though once I heard him every day,
I never once have seen his face.

It was my immemorial year,
When rhymes came fast and blood beat clear;
He too, perchance, was then alive,
Now separate ghosts, we wander here.

Sometimes his ghostly rondelay
Broke on my dream at dawn of day,
And through my open window stole
The perfumed marvel of the May.

Sometimes in midnight lanes I heard
The twitter of a darkling bird,
As hidden from the ashen moon,
The pathos of his music stirred.

O happy time! How goodly seemed
The dauntless timeless dream I dreamed,
Those dear imaginary sins,
The joys that is one torrent streamed.

When moon and stars go out for aye,
And I am dead and castaway,
This autumn city I have loved
Will know me not, but he will stay.

In faded suburbs he will play
Some other boy's brief morn away,
Till sapphire windows palely burn
Amid the undefeated gray.

And yet — sometimes I seem to know
1 shall not 'scape his phantom bow;
More paramount than death or pain,
This ghost will follow where I go.

In some well-kept untroubled hell
Where frustrate souls like mine may dwell,
I shall look up and hear his note
Coming across the asphodel.

No shades will gather at his tune
To dance their ghostly rigadoon,
Only that lonely voice will cleave

The everlasting afternoon.