Or shall my woman stand and read some unimpassioned
There’s music of a lulling sort in words that pause between;
Or shall she merely fan me while I wait here for the queen?
Again I caught my father’s voice in sharp word
‘Charge!’ a clash of steel: ’Charge again, the rebels stand.
Smite and spare not, hand to hand; smite and spare not, hand to hand.’
There swelled a tumult at the gate, high voices waxing
A flash of red reflected light lit the cathedral spire;
I heard a cry for faggots, then I heard a yell for fire.
’Sit and roast there with your meat, sit and
bake there with your bread,
You who sat to see us starve,’ one shrieking woman said:
‘Sit on your throne and roast with your crown upon your head.’
Nay, this thing will I do, while my mother tarrieth,
I will take my fine spun gold, but not to sew therewith,
I will take my gold and gems, and rainbow fan and wreath;
With a ransom in my lap, a king’s ransom in
my hand, 100
I will go down to this people, will stand face to face, will stand
Where they curse king, queen, and princess of this cursed land.
They shall take all to buy them bread, take all I
have to give;
I, if I perish, perish; they to-day shall eat and live;
I, if I perish, perish; that’s the goal I half conceive:
Once to speak before the world, rend bare my heart
The lesson I have learned which is death, is life, to know.
I, if I perish, perish; in the name of God I go.
Shall I forget on this side of the grave?
I promise nothing: you must wait and see
Patient and brave.
(O my soul, watch with him and he with me.)
Shall I forget in peace of Paradise?
I promise nothing: follow, friend, and see
Faithful and wise.
(O my soul, lead the way he walks with me.)
Ah, woe is me for pleasure that is vain,
Ah, woe is me for glory that is past:
Pleasure that bringeth sorrow at the last,
Glory that at the last bringeth no gain!
So saith the sinking heart; and so again
It shall say till the mighty angel-blast
Is blown, making the sun and moon aghast
And showering down the stars like sudden rain.
And evermore men shall go fearfully
Bending beneath their weight of heaviness;
And ancient men shall lie down wearily,
And strong men shall rise up in weariness;
Yea, even the young shall answer sighingly
Saying one to another: How vain it is!
‘Whose heart was breaking for a little love.’
Downstairs I laugh, I sport and jest with all;
But in my solitary room above
I turn my face in silence to the wall;
My heart is breaking for a little love.
Though winter frosts are done,
And birds pair every one,
And leaves peep out, for springtide is begun.