Old Melbourne Memories/Perdita

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For works with similar titles, see Perdita.
Old Melbourne Memories by Rolf Boldrewood
Perdita

PERDITA


She is beautiful yet, with her wondrous hair
 And eyes that are stormy with fitful light,
The delicate hues of brow and cheek
 Are unmarred all, rose-clear and bright;
That matchless frame yet holds at bay
The crouching bloodhounds, Remorse, Decay.

There is no fear in her great dark eyes —
 No hope, no love, no care,
Stately and proud she looks around
 With a fierce, defiant stare;
Wild words deform her reckless speech,
Her laugh has a sadness tears never reach.

Whom should she fear on earth? Can fate
 One direr torment lend
To her few little years of glitter and gloom
 With the sad old story to end,
When the spectres of Loneliness, Want, and Pain

Shall arise one night with Death in their train?

. . . . .

I see in a vision a woman like her
 Trip down an orchard slope,
With rosy prattlers that shout a name
 In tones of rapture and hope;
While the yeoman, gazing at children and wife,
Thanks God for the pride and joy of his life.

. . . . .

Whose conscience is heavy with this dark guilt?

 Who pays at the final day
For a wasted body, a murdered soul,
 And how shall he answer, I say,
For her outlawed years, her early doom,
And despair—despair—beyond the tomb?