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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Ernest McGaffey (b. 1861)

A Dancer

IN the lamplight’s glare she stood,—

The dancer, the octoroon,—

On a space of polished wood

With glittering sand-grains strewn;

And a rapid rhythmic tune

From the strings of a mandolin

Leaped up through the air in viewless flight and passed in a strident din.

Her eyes like a fawn’s were dark,

But her hair was black as night,

And a diamond’s bluish spark

From its masses darted bright,

While around her figure slight

Clung a web of lace she wore,

In carving lines of unhidden grace as she paused on the sanded floor.

Then the clashing music sprang

From the frets of the mandolin,

While the shadowy arches rang

With insistent echoes thin;

And there, as the spiders spin

Dim threads in a ring complete,

A labyrinthine wheel she wove with the touch of her flying feet.

To the right she swayed,—to the left,—

Then swung in a circle round,

Fast weaving a changing weft

To the changing music’s sound,

As light as a leaf unbound

From the grasp of its parent tree,

That falls and dips with the thistle-down afloat on a windy sea.

And wilder the music spell

Swept on in jarring sound,—

Advanced and rose and fell,

By gathering echoes crowned;

And the lights whirled round and round

O’er the woman dancing there,

With her Circe grace and passionate face and a diamond in her hair.