There is not so much to pardon,—
For why were your lips so red?
The blond hair fell in a shower of gold
From the proud, provoking head.
And the beauty that flashed from the splendid eyes,
And played round the tender mouth,
Rushed over my soul like a warm sweet wind
That blows from the fragrant south.
And where, after all, is the harm done?
I believe we were made to be gay,
And all of youth not given to love
Is vainly squandered away.
And strewn through life’s low labors,
Like gold in the desert sands,
Are love’s swift kisses and sighs and vows
And the clasp of clinging hands.
And when you are old and lonely,
In Memory’s magic shine
You will see on your thin and wasting hands,
Like gems, these kisses of mine.
And when you muse at evening
At the sound of some vanished name,
The ghost of my kisses shall touch your lips
And kindle your heart to flame.
Saith the Lord, “Vengeance is mine;
I will repay,” saith the Lord;
Ours be the anger divine,
Lit by the flash of his word.
How shall his vengeance be done?
How, when his purpose is clear?
Must he come down from his throne?
Hath he no instruments here?
Sleep not in imbecile trust
Waiting for God to begin,
While, growing strong in the dust,
Rests the bruised serpent of sin.
Right and Wrong,—both cannot live
Death-grappled. Which shall we see?
Strike! only Justice can give
Safety to all that shall be.
Shame! to stand paltering thus,
Tricked by the balancing odds;
Strike! God is waiting for us!
Strike! for the vengeance is God’s.
Had we but met in other days,
Had we but loved in other ways,
Another light and hope had shone
On your life and my own.
In sweet but hopeless reveries
I fancy how your wistful eyes
Had saved me, had I known their power
In fate’s imperious hour;
How loving you, beloved of God,
And following you, the path I trod
Had led me, through your love and prayers.
To God’s love unawares:
And how our beings joined as one
Had passed through checkered shade and sun,
Until the earth our lives had given,
With little change, to heaven.
God knows why this was not to be.
You bloomed from childhood far from me,
The sunshine of the favored place
That knew your youth and grace.
And when your eyes, so fair and free,
In fearless beauty beamed on me,
I knew the fatal die was thrown,
My choice in life was gone.
And still with wild and tender art
Your child-love touched my torpid heart,
Gilding the blackness where it fell,
Like sunlight over hell.