John Anderson’s Answer by John Byrne Leicester Warren

I cannot kiss thee as I used to kiss;
Time, who is lord of love, must answer this.
Shall I believe thine eyes have grown less sweet?
Nay, but my life-blood fails on heavier feet.
Time goes, old girl, time goes.

I cannot hold as once I held thy hand;
Youth is a tree whose leaves fall light as sand.
Hast thou known many trees that shed them so?
Ay me, sweetheart, I know, ay me, I know.
Time goes, my bird, time goes.

I cannot love thee as I used to love.
Age comes, and little Love takes flight above.
If our eyes fail, have his the deeper glow?
I do not know, sweetheart, I do not know.
Time goes, old girl, time goes.

Why, the gold cloud grows leaden, as the eve
Deepens, and one by one its glories leave.
And, if you press me, dear, why this is so,
That this is worth a tear is all I know.
Time flows and rows and goes.

In that old day the subtle child-god came;
Meek were his eyelids, but his eyeballs flame,
With sandals of desire his light feet shod,
With eyes and breath of fire a perfect god
He rose, my girl, he rose.

He went, my girl, and raised your hand and sighed,
“Would that my spirit always could abide.”
And whispered, “Go your ways and play your day,
Would I were god of time, but my brief sway
Is briefer than a rose.”

Old wife, old love, there is a something yet
That makes amends, tho’ all the glory set;
The after-love that holds thee trebly mine,
Though thy lips fade, my dove, and we decline,
And time, dear heart, still goes.

From: Warren, John Leicester, Rehearsals, A Book of Verses, 1870, Strahan and Co: London, pp. 78-80.
(http://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc1.b166136)

Date: 1870

By: John Byrne Leicester Warren (1835-1895)

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