New and Old

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by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I and new love, in all its living bloom,
           Sat vis-a-vis, while tender twilight hours
           Went softly by us, treading as on flowers.
Then suddenly I saw within the room
The old love, long since lying in its tomb.
           It dropped the cerecloth from its fleshless face
           And smiled on me, with a remembered grace
That, like the noontide, lit the gloaming's gloom.

Upon its shroud there hung the grave's green mould,
           About it hung the odor of the dead;
           Yet from its cavernous eyes such light was shed
That all my life seemed gilded, as with gold;
           Unto the trembling new love '"Go," I said
"I do not need thee, for I have the old."

from Poems of Passion by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1883)

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