In this lyric hour
I make a promise to the muse
She knows I will not keep:
I will pretend that shadows live;
She will make a promise to weep
As if she were moved by a dead flower
Or dead girl in an old romance,
A Victorian circus of grief,
Where sleeping passions are enough.

And now I almost glance
Over my shoulder at the muse,
But like Orpheus I know
If I look behind I will lose;
I must look straight ahead
Or peer at the page instead,
Where the shadow-poem will take shape
Without regard to words–the ones we use every day,
But words which behave like the wind
Or shadows which stand in our way.

I do not ask that love emerge,
Stepping with shadow-like step from shapes
That flicker and die,
Confusing, but somehow pleasurable to the eye,
Like a tune we cannot follow
Because it is lost in sorrow
And a dream the composer had
Beyond music. No, I am glad

That my poem is a mere shadow
Thrown upon the page,
Escaping detection of readers, who, by common sense
Know that my nostalgic trance
Will never stand up to the scrutiny of the age
Which looks through cunning glasses
At any shadow which passes
For a tired, 19th century poem
Where my muse once had a home

Before she promised to me
A storm, a sailor, a sea,
All made of shadows,
Rescued by a shadow called grace
With a shadow for a heart and a shadow for a face.

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