by Edgar Lee Masters
from Spoon River Anthology 
In a lingering fever many visions come to you:
I was in the little house again
With its great yard of clover
Running down to the board-fence,
Shadowed by the oak tree,
Where we children had our swing.
Yet the little house was a manor hall
Set in a lawn, and by the lawn was the sea.
I was in the room where little Paul
Strangled from diphtheria,
But yet it was not this room–
It was a sunny verandah enclosed
With mullioned windows
And in a chair sat a man in a dark cloak
With a face like Euripides.
He had come to visit me, or I had gone to visit him–
I could not tell.
We could hear the beat of the sea, the clover nodded
Under a summer wind, and little Paul came
With clover blossoms to the window and smiled.
Then I said: “What is ‘divine despair,’ Alfred?”
“Have you read ‘Tears, Idle Tears’?” he asked.
“Yes, but you do not there express divine despair.”
“My poor friend,” he answered, “that was why the despair
[To read more Spoon River Anthology click here.]