If a leaf rustled she would start:
And yet she died, a year ago.
How had so frail a thing the heart
To journey where she trembled so?
And do they turn and turn in fright,
Those little feet, in so much night?
The light above the poet’s head
Streamed on the page and on the cloth,
And twice and thrice there buffeted
On the black pane a white-winged moth:
’Twas Annie’s soul that beat outside,
And, “Open, open, open!” cried.
“I could not find the way to God;
There were too many flaming suns
For signposts, and the fearful road
Led over wastes where millions
Of flaming comets hissed and burned—
I was bewildered and I turned.
“O, it was easy then! I knew
Your window, and no star beside.
Look up and take me back to you!”
He rose and thrust the window wide.
’Twas but because his brain was hot
With rhyming; for he saw her not.
But poets polishing a phrase
Show anger over trivial things:
And as she blundered in the blaze
Towards him, on ecstatic wings,
He raised a hand and smote her dead;
Then wrote, “That I had died instead!”
“Who knocks?” “I, who was beautiful,
Beyond all dreams to restore,
I, from the roots of the dark thorn am hither,
And knock on the door.”
“Who speaks?” “I,—once
was my speech
Sweet as the bird’s on the air.
When echo lurks by the waters to heed;
’Tis I speak thee fair.”
“Dark is the hour!” “Aye, and cold.”
“Lone is my house.” “Ah, but mine?”
“Sight, touch, lips, eyes yearn in vain.”
“Long dead these to thine....”
Silence. Still faint on the porch
Brake the flames of the stars.
In gloom groped a hope-wearied hand
Over keys, bolts and bars.
A face peered. All the grey night
In chaos of vacancy shone;
Nought but vast Sorrow was there—
The sweet cheat gone.
Go to the western gate, Luke Havergal,—
There where the vines cling crimson on the wall,—
And in the twilight wait for what will come.
The wind will moan, the leaves will whisper some,—
Whisper of her, and strike you as they fall;
But go, and if you trust her she will call.
Go to the western gate, Luke Havergal—
No, there is not a dawn in eastern skies
To rift the fiery night that’s in your eyes;
But there where western glooms are gathering,
The dark will end the dark, if anything:
God slays Himself with every leaf that flies,
And hell is more than half of paradise.
No, there is not a dawn in eastern skies—
In eastern skies.