Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
A Roman Mirror
By Sir James Rennell Rodd (1858–1941)
 
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        5
  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        10
  Upon the mirror’s lustreless dead sheen,
Grown dim at last, when all else wither’d there.
 
Dead, broken, lustreless! It keeps for me
  One picture of that immemorial land;
  For oft as I have held thee in my hand        15
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.        20
 
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        25
  She holds a shadowy mirror to her eyes,
  And looks upon the changelessness and sighs
And sets the dead-land-lilies in her breast.
 
 
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