HELENA

Last night I saw Helena. She whose praise
    Of late all men have sounded. She for whom
    Young Angus rashly sought a silent tomb
Rather than live without her all his days.

Wise men go mad who look upon her long,
    She is so ripe with dangers. Yet meanwhile
    I find no fascination in her smile,
Although I make her theme of this poor song.

"Her golden tresses?" yes, they may be fair,
    And yet to me each shining silken tress
    Seems robbed of beauty and all lustreless---
Too many hands have stroked Helena's hair.

(I know a little maiden so demure
    She will not let her one true lover's hands
    In playful fondness touch her soft brown bands
So dainty minded is she and so pure.)

"Her great dark eyes that flash like gems at night?
    Large, long-lashed eyes and lustrous?" that may be
    And yet they are not beautiful to me.
Too many hearts have sunned in their delight.

(I mind me of two tender blue eyes, hid
    So underneath white curtains, and so veiled
    That I have sometimes pled for hours, and failed
To see more than the shyly-lifted lid.)

"Her perfect mouth, so like a carved kiss?"
    "Her honeyed mouth, where hearts do, fly-like, drown?"
    I would not taste its sweetness for a crown;
Too many lips have drunk its nectared bliss.

(I know a mouth whose virgin dew, undried,
    Lies like a young grape's bloom, untouched and sweet,
    And though I plead in passion at her feet,
She would not let me brush it if I died.)

In vain, Helena! though wise men may vie
    For thy rare smile or die from loss of it,
    Armoured by my sweet lady's trust, I sit,
And know thou art not worth her faintest sigh.

Poetical works of Ella Wheeler Wilcox. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Edinburgh : W. P. Nimmo, Hay, & Mitchell, 1917.


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