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I am prepared, in truth, with no proud joy,
To do or suffer aught, as when a boy
I did devote to justice, and to love,
My nature, worthless now.
"I must remove
A veil from my pent mind. "Tis torn aside!
O pallid as death's dedicated bride,
Thou mockery which art sitting by my side,
Am I not wan like thee? At the grave's call
I haste, invited to thy wedding-ball,
To meet the ghastly paramour, for whom
Thou hast deserted me,—and made the tomb
Thy bridal bed. But I beside thy feet
Will lie and watch ye from my winding-sheet
Thus-wide-awake though dead. Yet stay, O, stay!
Go not so soon-I know not what I
Hear but my reasons-I am mad, I fear,
My fancy is o'erwrought-thou art not here;
Pale art thou 'tis most true- -but thou art gone-
Thy work is finished; I am left alone.
"Nay was it I who wooed thee to this breast,
Which like a serpent thou envenomest
As in repayment of the warmth it lent?
Didst thou not seek me for thine own content?
Did not thy love awaken mine? I thought
That thou wert she who said You kiss me not
Ever; I fear you do not love me now:
In truth I loved even to my overthrow
Her who would fain forget these words, but they Cling to her mind, and cannot pass away.
"You say that I am proud; that when I speak,
My lip is tortured with the wrongs, which break
The spirit it expresses.-Never one
Humbled himself before, as I have done;
Even the instinctive worm on which we tread Turns, though it wound not-then, with prostrate head,
Sinks in the dust, and writhes like me- -and dies
-No :-wears a living death of agonies;
As the slow shadows of the pointed grass
Mark the eternal periods, its pangs pass,
Slow, ever-moving, making moments be
As mine seem,-each an immortality!
"That you had never seen me ! never heard
My voice! and more than all had neʼer endured
The deep pollution of my loathed embrace;
That your eyes neʼer had lied love in my face!
That, like some maniac monk, I had torn out
The nerves of manhood by their bleeding root
With mine own quivering fingers! so that ne'er
Our hearts had for a moment mingled there,
To disunite in horror! These were not
With thee like some suppressed and hideous thought,
Which flits athwart our musings, but can find
No rest within a pure and gentle mind—
Thou sealedst them with many a bare broad word,
And serv❜dst my memory o'er them, for I heard
And can forget not-they were ministered,
One after one, those curses. Mix them up
Like self-destroying poisons in one cup;
And they will make one blessing, which thou ne'er
Didst imprecate for on me,-death!
A cruel punishment for one most cruel,
If such can love, to make that love the fuel
Of the mind's hell-hate, scorn, remorse, despair:
But me, whose heart a stranger's tear might wear
As water-drops the sandy fountain-stone;
Who loved and pitied all things, and could moan
For woes which others hear not, and could see
The absent with a glass of phantasy,
And near the poor and trampled sit and weep,
Following the captive to his dungeon deep;
Me, who am as a nerve o'er which do creep
The else-unfelt oppressions of this earth,
And was to thee the flame upon thy hearth,
When all beside was cold:-that thou on me
Shouldst rain these plagues of blistering agony-
Such curses are from lips once eloquent
With love's too partial praise! Let none relent
Who intend deeds too dreadful for a name
Henceforth, if an example for the same
They seek for thou on me lookedst so and so,
And didst speak thus and thus. I live to show
. How much men bear and die not.
"Thou wilt tell,
With the grimace of hate, how horrible
It was to meet my love when thine grew less;
Thou wilt admire how I could e'er address
Such features to love's work.
(For indeed Nature nor in form nor hue Bestowed on me her choicest workmanship) Shall not be thy defence: for since thy lip Met mine first, years long past, since thine eye kindled
With soft fire under mine,-I have not dwindled,
Nor changed in mind, or body, or in aught
But as love changes what it loveth not
After long years and many trials.
Are words! I thought never to speak again,
Not even in secret, not to mine own heart;
But from my lips the unwilling accents start,
And from my pen the words flow as I write,
Dazzling my eyes with scalding tears-my sight
Is dim to see that (charactered in vain
On this unfeeling leaf) which burns the brain
And eats into it, blotting all things fair
And wise and good, which time had written there
Those who inflict must suffer, for they see
The work of their own hearts, and that must be
Our chastisement or recompense.—() child!
I would that thine were like to be more mild
For both our wretched sakes,—for thine the most
Who feel'st already all that thou hast lost,
Without the power to wish it thine again.
And, as slow years pass, a funereal train,
Each with the ghost of some lost hope or friend
Following it like its shadow, wilt thou bend
No thought on my dead memory?
66 Alas, love! Fear me not: against thee I'd not move A finger in despite. Do I not live
That thou mayst have less bitter cause to grieve?
I give thee tears for scorn, and love for hate;
And, that thy lot may be less desolate
Than his on whom thou tramplest, I refrain
From that sweet sleep which medicines all pain.
Then when thou speakest of me-never say,
'He could forgive not.'-Here I cast away
All human passions, all revenge, all pride;
I think, speak, act no ill; I do but hide
Under these words, like embers, every spark
Of that which has consumed me. Quick and dark
The grave is yawning :-as its roof shall cover
My limbs with dust and worms, under and over,
So let oblivion hide this grief.-The air
Closes upon my accents as despair
Upon my heart-let death upon my care!"
He ceased, and overcome, leant back awhile;
Then rising, with a melancholy smile,
Went to a sofa, and lay down, and slept