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Upon A Dying Lady


Her Courtesy

With the old kindness, the old distinguished grace,
She lies, her lovely piteous head amid dull red hair
propped upon pillows, rouge on the pallor of her face.
She would not have us sad because she is lying there, And when she meets our gaze her eyes are laughter-lit, Her speech a wicked tale that we may vie with her, Matching our broken-hearted wit against her wit, Thinking of saints and of petronius Arbiter.
II Curtain Artist bring her Dolls and Drawings Bring where our Beauty lies A new modelled doll, or drawing, With a friend's or an enemy's Features, or maybe showing Her features when a tress Of dull red hair was flowing Over some silken dress Cut in the Turkish fashion, Or, it may be, like a boy's.
We have given the world our passion, We have naught for death but toys.
III She turns the Dolls' Faces to the Wall Because to-day is some religious festival They had a priest say Mass, and even the Japanese, Heel up and weight on toe, must face the wall - Pedant in passion, learned in old courtesies, Vehement and witty she had seemed - ; the Venetian lady Who had seemed to glide to some intrigue in her red shoes, Her domino, her panniered skirt copied from Longhi; The meditative critic; all are on their toes, Even our Beauty with her Turkish trousers on.
Because the priest must have like every dog his day Or keep us all awake with baying at the moon, We and our dolls being but the world were best away.
IV The End of Day She is playing like a child And penance is the play, Fantastical and wild Because the end of day Shows her that some one soon Will come from the house, and say -- Though play is but half done -- "Come in and leave the play.
' V Her Race She has not grown uncivil As narrow natures would And called the pleasures evil Happier days thought good; She knows herself a woman, No red and white of a face, Or rank, raised from a common Vnreckonable race; And how should her heart fail her Or sickness break her will With her dead brother's valour For an example still? VI Her Courage When her soul flies to the predestined dancing-place (I have no speech but symbol, the pagan speech I made Amid the dreams of youth) let her come face to face, Amid that first astonishment, with Grania's shade, All but the terrors of the woodland flight forgot That made her Diatmuid dear, and some old cardinal Pacing with half-closed eyelids in a sunny spot Who had murmured of Giorgione at his latest breath - Aye, and Achilles, Timor, Babar, Barhaim, all Who have lived in joy and laughed into the face of Death.
VII Her Friends bring her a Christmas Tree pardon, great enemy, Without an angry thought We've carried in our tree, And here and there have bought Till all the boughs are gay, And she may look from the bed On pretty things that may please a fantastic head.
Give her a little grace, What if a laughing eye Have looked into your face? It is about to die.

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