A WAFT OF PERFUME

A waft of perfume from a bit of lace,
Moved lightly by a passing woman's hand;
And on the common street, a sensuous grace
Shone suddenly from some lost time and land.

Tall structures changed to dome and parapet;
The stern faced Church an oracle became;
In sheltered alcoves, marble busts were set;
And on the wall, frail Lais wrote her name.

Phryne before her judges stood at bay,
Fearing the rigor of Athenian laws;
Till Hyperides tore her cloak away
And bade her splendid beauty plead its cause.

Great Alexander walking in the dusk,
Dreamed of the hour when Greek with Greek should meet;
From Thais' window, attar breathed, and musk;
His footsteps went no farther down the street.

Faint and more faint, the pungent perfume grew;
Of wall and parapet, remained no trace.
Temple and statue vanished from the view
The city street again was commonplace.

World Voices by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
New York : Hearst's International Library Company 1916.


Back to Poem Index