A Little While

Don Marquis

A little while the tears and laughter,
  The willow and the rose—
A little while, and what comes after
  No man knows.

An hour to sing, to love and linger . . .
  Then lutanist and lute
Will fall on silence, song and singer
  Both be mute.

Our gods from our desires we fashion. . . .
  Exalt our baffled lives,
And dream their vital bloom and passion
  Still survives;

But when we’re done with mirth and weeping,
  With myrtle, rue, and rose,
Shall Death take Life into his keeping? . . .
  No man knows.

What heart hath not, through twilight places,
  Sought for its dead again
To gild with love their pallid faces? . . .
  Sought in vain! . . .

Still mounts the Dream on shining pinion . . .
  Still broods the dull distrust . . .
Which shall have ultimate dominion,
  Dream, or dust?

A little while with grief and laughter,
  And then the day will close;
The shadows gather . . . what comes after
  No man knows!

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