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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Old Piano

By Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr (1831–1919)

HOW still and dusky is the long-closed room!

What lingering shadows and what faint 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 came once more to see

The old piano, dear to memory,

In past days mine.

Of all sad voices from forgotten years,

Its 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 stiff and weary with life’s toil and fight;

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 its secrets, touched its keys and wires

To thoughts of many colors and desires,

With whispering fingers.

All are silent now, the farewell said,

The last song sung, the last tear 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 lost 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 with melody,

And thou forget? Dear one, not so.

I move thee yet (though how I may not know)

Beyond the skies.