In the Face of the Dead [poem by Ethel Castilla]

[Editor: This poem by Ethel Castilla was published in The Bulletin Reciter, 1901.]

In the Face of the Dead.

The artist wins plaudits by showing
The loveliest prize of Earth’s race ;
His Helen with young life is glowing,
All human hopes summed in her face.
His name would be borne o’er the oceans,
His fame to the poles would be spread,
Could he add to her play of emotions
The joy in the face of the dead !

Enthroned by the love of a nation,
The actor rings clear in his part
The gamut from grief to elation ;
His face is transformed by his art.
What lacks in his strong histrionic
Appeals to the heart and the head ?
Whispers Death, with hoarse accent sardonic,
“The joy in the face of the dead !”

The jockey is thrilled by the thunder,
Sweet as peace after fever and fret,
That hails his great win as a wonder ;
His price above rubies is set.
His face blazons forth his glad story
Whence triumph exultant is shed,
Yet its brightness is dulled by the glory
Of the joy in the face of the dead.

Enthralled by white arms, clinging kisses,
The lover quaffs passion’s strong wine,
Yet, sweet as the draught is, he misses
A joy he can never define.
The rose out of Eden, the fairest.
Would come, with Love’s secret flushed red,
Could he find in the eyes of his dearest
The joy in the face of the dead !

Ethel Castilla.



Source:
A.G. Stephens (editor). The Bulletin Reciter: A Collection of Verses for Recitation from “The Bulletin” [1880-1901], The Bulletin Newspaper Company, Sydney, 1902 [first published 1901], pages 43-44

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