The Cello

hen 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.
Of the human soul forlorn.
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