In Vain

By George Sterling

To what fair thing, O thou my Sweet!
        Shall best I liken thee?—
        Thou, white as where the sea
Breaks to the foam-flowers delicate and sweet!

Shall I go forth upon the wave
        To seek, perchance to find,
        Afar from sin and wind,
A moonlike pearl within an ocean cave?—

Then, clasping that, return and say:
    "Thou art more fair than this:
    Thy maiden bosom is
More white than snows beneath the moon or day?"

And then, should not I yearn to cry:
    "Thy forehead is as white,
    Oh! and thine eyes' strange light
Sweeter than any stars that take the sky?"

But thou, I dream, wouldst silent stand
    With those great eyes of thine,
    Young, exquisite, divine,
Turned for a moment on my trembling hand,

And smile a little sadly, till
    I knew my gift in vain.
    And all for naught the pain
Whose tears of love my hopeless eyes should fill!


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