Mirage

By George Sterling

I will  remember that the year was old—
    A time of fallen leaves and wings departing.
    Beside our western sea the grass was starting,
And willow buds were eager to unfold.

But all that day the shadowed paths were wet,
    As tho in cloud had come the waiting vision,
    And on the sunset altars of transition
Awhile that mournfulness and beauty met.

Long gone the night that held my deathless dream—
    Its vanished rain long given to the roses,
    But tho I sleep, no other night discloses
The Three who shone by that delaying Stream.

One was called Evening for her slow caress,
    And one called Peace because her eyes were tender,
    (Softly she came, most innocent and slender),
And one called Heart-ache for her loveliness.

They were of slumber and mirage's sky—
    Frailties of vision, an august illusion
    Living a little by the soul's inclusion,
Living in memory as long as I.

Yet did they make the burning stars seem clods—
    Those shadows of illusion passing slowly;
     For on each face a Light fell sad and hilly
From tracts I dreamt forbidden save to gods.

A little while, a little while they gleamed,
    Who were not, are not, yet shall haunt me ever,
    Mingling the sorrow of the Once and Never,
To glorify the dream of him that dreamed.

I shall not know them other than they are,
  Who find on paths that memory retraces
  The immortal, mournful beauty of those faces
That haunting, hold me exile of their star.

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