We were sitting at chess as the sun went down;

And he, from his meerschaum's glossy brown,

With a ring of smoke made his king a crown.

The cherry stem, with its amber tip,

Thoughtfully rested on his lip,

As the goblet's rim from which heroes sip.

And, looking out through the early green,

He called on his patron saint, I ween,--

That misty maiden, Sai
t Nicotine,--

While ever rested that crown so fair,

Poised in the warm and pulseless air,

On the carven chessman's ivory hair.

Dreamily wandered the game along,

Quietly moving at even-song,

While the striving kings stood firm and strong,

Until that one which of late was crowned

Flinched from a knight's determined bound,

And in sullen majesty left the ground,

Reeling back; and it came to pass

That, waiting to mutter no funeral mass,

A bishop had dealt him the _coup de grace_.

And so, as we sat, we reasoned still

Of fate and of fortune, of human will,

And what are the purposes men fulfil.

For we see at last, when the truth arrives,

The moves on the chess-board of our lives,--

That fields may be lost, though the king survives.

Not always he whom the world reveres

Merits its honor or wins its cheers,

Standing the best at the end of the years.

Not always he who has lost the fight

Rises again with the coming light,

Battles anew for his ancient right.