The Actor

Enthusiastic was the crowd
That hailed him with delight;
The wine was bright, the laughter loud
And glorious the night.
But when at dawn he drove away
With echo of their cheer,
To where his little daughter lay,
Then he knew-- Fear.

How strangely still the house! He crept
On tip-toe to the bed;
And there she lay as if she slept
With candles at her head.
Her mother died to give her birth,
An angel child was she;
To him the dearest one on earth . . .
How could it be?

'O God! If she could only live,'
He thought with bitter pain,
'How gladly, gladly would I give
My glory and my gain.
I have created many a part,
And many a triumph known;
Yet here is one with breaking heart
I play alone.'

Beside the hush of her his breath
Came with a sobbing sigh.
He babbled: 'Sweet, you play at death . . .
'Tis I who die.'

by Robert William Service

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