For the crimson flower of our life is eaten by
the cankerworm of truth,
And no hand can gather up the fallen withered
petals of the rose of youth.
Yet I am not sorry that I loved you - ah!
what else had I a boy to do, -
For the hungry teeth of time devour, and the
silent-footed years pursue.
Rudderless, we drift athwart a tempest, and
when once the storm of youth is past,
Without lyre, without lute or chorus, Death
the silent pilot comes at last.
And within the grave there is no pleasure,
for the blindworm battens on the root,
And Desire shudders into ashes, and the tree
of Passion bears no fruit.
Ah! what else had I to do but love you?
God's own mother was less dear to me,
And less dear the Cytheraean rising like an
argent lily from the sea.
I have made my choice, have lived my
poems, and, though youth is gone in wasted days,
I have found the lover's crown of myrtle better
than the poet's crown of bays.