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Do You Remember Once . . .

Written by: Alan Seeger | Biography
 | Quotes (2) |
 Do you remember once, in Paris of glad faces, 
The night we wandered off under the third moon's rays 
And, leaving far behind bright streets and busy places, 
Stood where the Seine flowed down between its quiet quais? 


The city's voice was hushed; the placid, lustrous waters 
Mirrored the walls across where orange windows burned.
Out of the starry south provoking rumors brought us Far promise of the spring already northward turned.
And breast drew near to breast, and round its soft desire My arm uncertain stole and clung there unrepelled.
I thought that nevermore my heart would hover nigher To the last flower of bliss that Nature's garden held.
There, in your beauty's sweet abandonment to pleasure, The mute, half-open lips and tender, wondering eyes, I saw embodied first smile back on me the treasure Long sought across the seas and back of summer skies.
Dear face, when courted Death shall claim my limbs and find them Laid in some desert place, alone or where the tides Of war's tumultuous waves on the wet sands behind them Leave rifts of gasping life when their red flood subsides, Out of the past's remote delirious abysses Shine forth once more as then you shone, -- beloved head, Laid back in ecstasy between our blinding kisses, Transfigured with the bliss of being so coveted.
And my sick arms will part, and though hot fever sear it, My mouth will curve again with the old, tender flame.
And darkness will come down, still finding in my spirit The dream of your brief love, and on my lips your name.
II You loved me on that moonlit night long since.
You were my queen and I the charming prince Elected from a world of mortal men.
You loved me once.
.
.
.
What pity was it, then, You loved not Love.
.
.
.
Deep in the emerald west, Like a returning caravel caressed By breezes that load all the ambient airs With clinging fragrance of the bales it bears From harbors where the caravans come down, I see over the roof-tops of the town The new moon back again, but shall not see The joy that once it had in store for me, Nor know again the voice upon the stair, The little studio in the candle-glare, And all that makes in word and touch and glance The bliss of the first nights of a romance When will to love and be beloved casts out The want to question or the will to doubt.
You loved me once.
.
.
.
Under the western seas The pale moon settles and the Pleiades.
The firelight sinks; outside the night-winds moan -- The hour advances, and I sleep alone.
III Farewell, dear heart, enough of vain despairing! If I have erred I plead but one excuse -- The jewel were a lesser joy in wearing That cost a lesser agony to lose.
I had not bid for beautifuller hours Had I not found the door so near unsealed, Nor hoped, had you not filled my arms with flowers, For that one flower that bloomed too far afield.
If I have wept, it was because, forsaken, I felt perhaps more poignantly than some The blank eternity from which we waken And all the blank eternity to come.
And I betrayed how sweet a thing and tender (In the regret with which my lip was curled) Seemed in its tragic, momentary splendor My transit through the beauty of the world.



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