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The Old Piano

How still and dusky is the long closed room!

What lingering shadows and what sweet perfume

Of Eastern treasures; sandal-wood and scent,

With nard and cassia, and with roses blent:

Let in the sunshine.

Quaint cabinets are here, boxes and fans,

And hoarded letters full of hopes and plans:

I pass them by—I come once more to see

The old piano, dear to memory;

In past days mine.


Of all sad voices from forgotten years,

It is the saddest. See what tender tears

Drop on the yellow keys! as soft and slow

I play some melody of long ago.

How strange it seems!

The thin, weak notes that once were rich and strong

Give only now, the shadow of a song;

The dying echo of the fuller strain,

That I shall never, never hear again:

Unless in dreams.


What hands have touched it! fingers small and white,

Since cold and weary with life’s toil and strife

Dear clinging hands, that long have been at rest

Folded serenely on a quiet breast.

Only to think

O white sad notes, of all the pleasant days,

The happy songs, the hymns of holy praise,

The dreams of love and youth, that round you cling!

Do they not make each sighing, trembling string

A mighty link?


All its musicians gone beyond recall!

The beautiful, the loved, where are they all?

Each told their secret, touched the keys and wires

To thoughts of many colors and desires,

With whispering fingers:

All now are silent, their last farewells said,

Their last songs sung, their last tears sadly shed;

Yet Love has given it many dreams to keep

In this lone room, where only shadows creep,

And silence lingers.


The old piano answers to my call,

And from my fingers lets the last notes fall.

O Soul that I have loved! With heavenly birth

Wilt thou not keep the memory of earth,

Its smiles and sighs,

Shall wood, and metal, and white ivory,

Answer the touch of love and melody,

And Thou forget? Dear One, not so!

I move thee yet, though how I may not know,

Beyond the skies.


Amelia E. Barr