Minstrel, what have you to do
With this man that, after you,
Sharing not your happy fate,
Sat as England’s Laureate?
Vainly, in these iron days,
Strives the poet in your praise,
Minstrel, by whose singing side
Beauty walked, until you died.
Still, though none should hark again,
Drones the blue-fly in the pane,
Thickly crusts the blackest moss,
Blows the rose its musk across,
Floats the boat that is forgot
None the less to Camelot.
Many a bard’s untimely death
Lends unto his verses breath;
Here’s a song was never sung:
Growing old is dying young.
Minstrel, what is this to you:
That a man you never knew,
When your grave was far and green,
Sat and gossipped with a queen?
Thalia knows how rare a thing
Is it, to grow old and sing;
When a brown and tepid tide
Closes in on every side.
Who shall say if Shelley’s gold
Had withstood it to grow old?
“Thin Rain, whom are you haunting,
That you haunt my door?”
–Surely it is not I she’s wanting;
Someone living here before–
“Nobody’s in the house but me:
You may come in if you like and see.”
Thin as thread, with exquisite fingers,–
Have you seen her, any of you?–
Grey shawl, and leaning on the wind,
And the garden showing through?
Glimmering eyes,–and silent, mostly,
Sort of a whisper, sort of a purr,
Asking something, asking it over,
If you get a sound from her.–
Ever see her, any of you?–
Strangest thing I’ve ever known,–
Every night since I moved in,
And I came to be alone.
“Thin Rain, hush with your knocking!
You may not come in!
This is I that you hear rocking;
Nobody’s with me, nor has been!”
Curious, how she tried the window,–
Odd, the way she tries the door,–
Wonder just what sort of people
Could have had this house before . . .