On a Dead Girl

Original Text: 

Wilfrid Thorley, Fleurs de Lys: A Book of French Poetry Freely Translated into English Verse. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1920. 180-81. Internet Archive.

1Lovely she was, if so be Night
2     That slumbers in the sombre shrine.
3There laid by sculptor Michael's might
4     Unmoving in her marble line.
5And she was kind, if it suffice
6     To succour with unheeding face,
7And give unseen of God's wide eyes;
8     If heartless gold have any grace.
9She pondered if the idle stir
10     And gentle lilt of phrases low,
11As plaintive as a brook, aver
12     That the shy brook doth ponder so.
13She prayed, if two so lovely eyes
14     From downward gaze and upward glance
15In flight from earth toward the skies,
16     May earn the name of pray'r perchance.
17She might have smiled, if flowers shy
18     That yet within the bud are sealed.
19Might open when the wind goes by
20     And leaves their longing all unhealed.
21She might have wept, if her white hand
22     That coldly o'er her heart is set
23Had ever human body spanned
24     With dews of heavenly odour wet.
25She might have loved, had pride allowed
26     That ever kept its vigil vain,
27And like a lamp set by a shroud.
28     Shone in her barren heart's domain.
29The hue of seeming life she wore;
30     And she has died by life unstirred.
31The book is fallen to the floor
32     Whereof she never spelt a word.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
Data entry: Sharine Leung
RPO Edition: 
2012