A Waft of Perfume
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
A waft of perfume from a bit of lace
Moved lightly by a passing woman’s hand;
And on the common street, a sensuous grace
Shone suddenly from some lost time and land.
Tall structures changed to dome and parapet;
The stern-faced Church an oracle became;
In sheltered alcoves marble busts were set;
And on the wall frail Lais wrote her name.
Phryne before her judges stood at bay,
Fearing the rigour of Athenian laws;
Till Hyperides tore her cloak away,
And bade her splendid beauty plead its cause.
Great Alexander walking in the dusk,
Dreamed of the hour when Greek with Greek should meet;
From Thais’ window attar breathed, and musk:
His footsteps went no farther down the street.
Faint and more faint the pungent perfume grew;
Of wall and parapet remained no trace.
Temple and statue vanished from the view:
The city street again was commonplace.