A Wife Comes Back

This is the story a man told me
Of his life's one day of dreamery.

A woman came into his room
Between the dawn and the creeping day:
She was the years-wed wife from whom
He had parted, and who lived far away,
As if strangers they.

He wondered, and as she stood
She put on youth in her look and air,
And more was he wonderstruck as he viewed
Her form and flesh bloom yet more fair
While he watched her there;

Till she freshed to the pink and brown
That were hers on the night when first they met,
When she was the charm of the idle town
And he the pick of the club-fire set . . .
His eyes grew wet,

And he stretched his arms: "Stay—rest!"—
He cried. "Abide with me so, my own!"
But his arms closed in on his hard bare breast;
She had vanished with all he had looked upon
Of her beauty: gone.

He clothed, and drew downstairs,
But she was not in the house, he found;
And he passed out under the leafy pairs
Of the avenue elms, and searched around
To the park-pale bound.

He mounted, and rode till night
To the city to which she had long withdrawn,
The vision he bore all day in his sight
Being her young self as pondered on
In the dim of dawn.

"—The lady here long ago—
Is she now here?—young—or such age as she is?"
"—She is still here." "Thank God. Let her know;
She'll pardon a comer so late as this
Whom she'd fain not miss."

She received him an ancient dame,
Who hemmed, with features frozen and numb,
"How strange!—I'd almost forgotten your name!—
A call just now—is troublesome;
Why did you come?"

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