The Queen Forgets

By George Sterling

What came before and afterward
  (She said) I do not know;
But I remember well a night
  In a life long ago.

What spoil was I of Egypt sacked?
  Of what old war the pledge?
Around my tent whose army lay,
  At the great desert's edge?

A maiden, or a Satrap's wife,
  A slave or queen was I
Who saw that night the steady stars
  Go down the living sky?

And saw against the heavenly ranks
  How one stood watch and ward.
Black on the stars he stood, and leaned
  On a cross-hilted sword.

There was no sound in all the camp
  But when a stallion neighed . . .
I saw the light of Sirius
  On the cold blade.

Downward, above a single palm,
  Slowly the great star crept;
More motionless my sentry stood,
  As silently I wept.

What wrath had Libya for my loss?
  In Syria what tears?
What king or swineherd cursed his god
  In those forgotten years?

The tale is not in tapestry;
  The grey monks do not know . . .
Only its shadow touches me
  From out the long ago.

Of terror and of tenderness
  Is that far vigil made,
And the green light of Sirius
  On the chill blade.

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