When late I heard the trembling cello play,
In every face I read sad memories
That from dark, secret chambers where they lay
Rose, and looked forth from melancholy eyes.
So every mournful thought found there a tone
To match despondence: sorrow knew its mate;
Ill fortune sighed, and mute despair made moan;
And one deep chord gave answer, “Late,—too late.”
Then ceased the quivering strain, and swift returned
Into its depths the secret of each heart;
Each face took on its mask, where lately burned
A spirit charmed to sight by music’s art;
But unto one who caught that inner flame
No face of all can ever seem the same.
Richard Watson Gilder