Collected Poems
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THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW
And his fingers upon shoulders that had never felt the wheel;
And their last of empty trophies was a gilded cup of nothing,
Which a contemplating vagabond would not have come to steal.
Long and often had they figured for a larger valuation,
But the size of their addition was the balance of a doubt:
There were gentlemen of leisure in the Valley of the Shadow,
Not allured by retrospection, disenchanted, and played out.
And among the dark endurances of unavowed reprisals
There were silent eyes of envy that saw little but saw well;
And over beauty ' s aftermath of hazardous ambitions
There were tears for what had vanished as they vanished where
they fell.
Not assured of what was theirs, and always hungry for the
nameless,
There were some whose only passion was for Time who made
them cold:
There were numerous fair women in the Valley of the Shadow,
Dreaming rather less of heaven than of hell when they were old.
Now and then, as if to scorn the common touch of common
sorrow,
There were some who gave a few the distant pity of a smile;
And another cloaked a soul as with an ash of human embers,
Having covered thus a treasure that would last him for a while.
There were many by the presence of the many disaffected,
Whose exemption was included in the weight that others bore:
There were seekers after darkness in the Valley of the Shadow,
And they alone were there to find what they were looking for.
So they were, and so they are; and as they came are coming
others,
And among them are the fearless and the meek and the unborn ;
And a question that has held us heretofore without an answer
May abide without an answer until all have ceased to mourn.
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