’Feel not after my clasping hand:
I am but a shadow, come from the meadow
Where many lie, but no tree can stand.
’We are trees which have shed their leaves:
Our heads lie low there, but no tears flow there;
Only I grieve for my wife who grieves.
’I could rest if you would not moan
Hour after hour; I have no power
To shut my ears where I lie alone.
’I could rest if you would not cry;
But there’s no sleeping while you sit weeping— 50
Watching, weeping so bitterly.’—
’Woe’s me! woe’s me! for this I
Oh night of sorrow!—oh black to-morrow!
Is it thus that you keep your word?
’O you who used so to shelter me
Warm from the least wind—why, now the east wind
Is warmer than you, whom I quake to see.
’O my husband of flesh and blood,
For whom my mother I left, and brother,
And all I had, accounting it good, 60
’What do you do there, underground,
In the dark hollow? I’m fain to follow.
What do you do there?—what have you found?’—
’What I do there I must not tell:
But I have plenty: kind wife, content ye:
It is well with us—it is well.
’Tender hand hath made our nest;
Our fear is ended, our hope is blended
With present pleasure, and we have rest.’—
’Oh, but Robin, I’m fain to come,
If your present days are so pleasant;
For my days are so wearisome.
’Yet I’ll dry my tears for your sake:
Why should I tease you, who cannot please you
Any more with the pains I take?’
I nursed it in my bosom while it lived,
I hid it in my heart when it was dead;
In joy I sat alone, even so I grieved
Alone and nothing said.
I shut the door to face the naked truth,
I stood alone—I faced the truth alone,
Stripped bare of self-regard or forms or ruth
Till first and last were shown.
I took the perfect balances and weighed;
No shaking of my hand disturbed the poise; 10
Weighed, found it wanting: not a word I said,
But silent made my choice.
None know the choice I made; I make it still.
None know the choice I made and broke my heart,
Breaking mine idol: I have braced my will
Once, chosen for once my part.
I broke it at a blow, I laid it cold,
Crushed in my deep heart where it used to live.
My heart dies inch by inch; the time grows old,
Grows old in which I grieve. 20
I have a room whereinto no one enters
Save I myself alone:
There sits a blessed memory on a throne,
There my life centres.