Old Fires By John Frederick Freeman

    The fire burns low
    Where it has burned ages ago,
    Sinks and sighs
    As it has done to a hundred eyes
    Staring, staring
    At the last cold smokeless glow.

    Here men sat
    Lonely and watched the golden grate
    Turn at length black;
    Heard the cooling iron crack:
    Shadows, shadows,
    Watching the shadows come and go.

    And still the hiss
    I hear, the soft fire’s sob and kiss,
    And still it burns
    And the bright gold to crimson turns,
    Sinking, sinking,
    And the fire shadows larger grow.

    O dark-cheeked fire,
    Wasting like spent heart’s desire,
    You that were gold,
    And now crimson will soon be cold–
    Cold, cold,
    Like moon-shadows on new snow.

    Shadows all,
    They that watched your shadows fall.
    But now they come
    Rising around me, grave and dumb….
    Shadows, shadows,
    Come as the fire-shadows go.

    And stay, stay,
    Though all the fire sink cold as clay,
    Whispering still,
    Ancestral wise Familiars–till,
    Staring, staring,
    Dawn’s wild fires through the casement glow.

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