To a Monk's Skull

By George Sterling

You grin as though you finally had guessed
    How well the dice were loaded, even for you.
    Still, some have ended winners, though a few,
And even losers made their casts with zest.
But at the last you ended like the rest—
    On the Great Hazard: what the mortal threw
    The god surpassed. For once the dice fell true
And all the tavern echoed with the jest.

Perhaps you beat, at that, the tricky game:
    You missed the rose, but missed its thorn as well,
        Crouching in shadow as the condor swooped.
You wagered fleeting bliss with lasting flame,
    And though there was no Heaven and no Hell,
        Death was too kind to show that you were duped.

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