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        This precious bubble of the antique world,
        As light as lifted foam, as frail as breath,
        Endured when empires died a desperate death,
        When heaven on earth, when tower on tower was hurled.

        Hues of a beetle’s temporary wing
        Have grown on this in centuries of slime;
        Dials have told a rosary of time
        For every nuance of this feeble thing.

        Were it devised at first for costly balm,
        The distillation of a summer’s fee,
        To sweeten some “Ah sweet, I dote on thee,”
        And over all there lies a common calm.  .  .  .

        No more, no more the heavy branches drip
        Another fragrance to the tangled moss,
        Translucent insects flamed and hummed across;
        The sleep they soothed is grown eternal sleep.

        It mocks indeed, it is not wholly dumb,
        The insect’s fiery wing; and, listening well
        Against the margin of this tell-tale shell,
        There wakes the memory of a distant hum.

        Drowse on, drowse on until I come again;
        Or sleep, or sleep for ever, evermore;
        We are like men who halt upon a shore,
        Whose thoughts go forward and whose feet remain.

                                                                            JOHN GRAY.

MLA citation:

Gray, John. “A Phial.” The Venture: an Annual of Art and Literature, vol. 1, 1903, pp. 233-234. Venture Digital Edition, edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2019-2021. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2021,