Last night the house was crowded. Were you there?
You thought our box held only two, maybe--
Myself and chaperon, a matron fair.
There was another whom you did not see.
Close, close beside me, sat a phantom form;
Above the music and loud cheer on cheer
That rose, and thundered like a sudden storm,
I heard his low voice whispering in my ear.
A dead man's voice. You know when dead men speak
There is no noise their least tone will not drown.
His sweet soft words brought blushes to my cheek,
And made my happy eyelids flutter down.
There were so many glasses turned on me,
My chaperon was proud. She called me fair,
And said I drew their glances. Well, may be.
I think they saw that dead man sitting there.
A dead man at an opera: how strange!
I know it must have seemed much out of place.
He smiled, and spoke, and there was little change
In the white pallor of his perfect face.
Yet he was dead. I knew it all the while,
I do not wonder people looked that way.
It seemed so odd to see a dead man smile;
Its strangeness never struck me till to-day.
He rose and went out when we left our stall;
Rose up, went out, and vanished in the night.
He always sits beside me in that hall,
But goes when goes the music and the light.
Yesterdays. By Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
London: Gay & Hancock, 1916.
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