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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Rennell Rodd b. 1858

A Roman Mirror

THEY found it in her hollow marble bed,

There where the numberless dead cities sleep,

They found it lying where the spade struck deep,

A broken mirror by a maiden dead.

These things—the beads she wore about her throat

Alternate blue and amber all untied,

A lamp to light her way, and on one side

The toll men pay to that strange ferry-boat.

No trace to-day of what in her was fair!

Only the record of long years grown green

Upon the mirror’s lustreless dead sheen,

Grown dim at last, when all else withered there.

Dead, broken, lustreless! It keeps for me

One picture of that immemorial land,

For oft as I have held thee in my hand

The dull bronze brightens, and I dream to see

A fair face gazing in thee wondering wise,

And o’er one marble shoulder all the while

Strange lips that whisper till her own lips smile,

And all the mirror laughs about her eyes.

It was well thought to set thee there, so she

Might smooth the windy ripples of her hair

And knot their tangled waywardness, or ere

She stood before the queen Persephone.

And still it may be where the dead folk rest

She holds a shadowy mirror to her eyes,

And looks upon the changelessness, and sighs

And sets the dead land lilies in her breast.