An Afternoon

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I am stirred by the dream of an afternoon
Of a perfect day--though it was not June;
The lilt of winds, and the droning tune
   That a busy city was humming.

And a bronze-brown head, and lips like wine
Leaning out through the window-vine
A-list for steps that were maybe mine -
   Eager steps that were coming.

I can see it all, as a dreamer may -
The tender smile on your lips that day,
And the glow on your cheek as we rode away
   Into the golden weather.

And a love-light shone in your eyes of brown -
I swear there did!--as we drove down
The crowded avenue out of the town,
   Through shadowy lanes, together:

Drove out into the sunset-skies
That glowed with wonderful crimson dyes;
And with soul and spirit, and heart and eyes,
   We silently drank their splendour.

But the golden glory that lit the place
Was not alone from the sunset's grace -
For I saw in your fair, uplifted face
   A light that was wondrously tender.

I say I saw it. And yet to-day
I ask myself, in a cynical way,
Was it only a part you had learned to play,
   To see me act the lover?

And I curse myself for a fool. And yet
I would willingly die without one regret
Could I bring back the day whose sun has set -
   And you--and live it over.

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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