by ROBERT WILLIAM SERVICE (1874-1958)
The Porch was blazoned with geranium bloom;
Myrtle and jasmine meadows lit the lea;
With rose and violet the vale’s perfume
Languished to where the hyacinthine sea
Dreamed tenderly . . . “And I must go,” said he.
He spoke in that dim, ghostly voice of his:
“I was a singer; then the War . . . and GAS.”
(I had to lean to him, no word to miss.)
“We bought this little café nigh to Grasse;
With sun and flowers my last few days will pass.
“And music too. I have my mandolin:
Say! Maybe you can strum on your guitar . . .
Come on—we two will make melodious din,
While Madame sings to us behind the bar:
You’ll see how sweet Italian folk-songs are.”
So he would play and I would thrum the while;
I used to go there every lovely day;
His wife would listen with a sunny smile,
And when I left: “Please come again,” she’d say.
“He seems quite sad when you have gone away.”
Alas! I had to leave without good-bye,
And lived in sooty cities for a year.
Oh, how my heart ached for that happy sky!
Then, then one day my café I drew near—
God! it was strange how I was gripped with fear.
So still it was; I saw no mandolin,
No gay guitar with ribbons blue and red;
Then all in black, stone-faced the wife came in . . .
I did not ask; I looked, she shook her head:
“La musique est fini,” was all she said.
Robert William Service Contemporaries
Clarence Leonard Hay