You have played your match, and ridden your race,
You have fought in your fight—and lost;
And life has set its claws in your face,
And you know what the scratches cost.
Out there the world is cruel and loud,
It strikes at the beaten man;
Come out of the press of the stranger crowd
To the place where your life began.
The best robe lies in the cedar chest,
And your father’s ring is here;
You have known the worst, come home to the best—
You will pay for it, never fear!
In every kiss of your sister’s mouth,
In each tear from your mother’s eyes,
You will pay the price of the days in the South
Where the far-off country lies.
Smile on me, mouth of red—so much
Shine on me, eyes which darkened lashes shade,
Turn, turn my way, oh glorious golden head,
My soul is lost, then let the price be paid!
Amid rich flowers your rosy lamplight gleams,
Amid rich hangings pass your scented hours,
And woods and fields are green but in my dreams,
And only in my dreams grow meadow-flowers.
I have forgotten everything but you—
The apple orchard where the whitethroat sings,
The quiet fields, the moonlight, and the dew,
The virgin’s bower that in wet hedgerow clings.
I have forgotten how the cool grass waves
Where clean winds blow, and where good women pray
For happy, honest men, safe in their graves;
And—oh, my God! I would I were as they!
You bring your love too late, dear, I have no
love to buy it,
I spent my love on worthless toys, at fairs you do not know;
I am a bankrupt trader—dear eyes, do not deny it,
I could have bought your love, dear, but that was long ago.
My soul has left me widowed, my heart has made me
Leave me—all good things, dear, have left me—leave me too!
For here is ice no tears of yours, no smiles of yours can soften:
Leave me, leave me, leave me, I have no love for you!
I have no flowers to give you, they grow not in my
I have no songs to sing you, my songs have all been sung;
I have no hope of heaven, no faith in any pardon,
I might have loved you once, dear, when I was good and young.
I will not steal, nor cheat you; take back the heart
you lent me.
O God, whom I have outraged, now teach me how to pray,
That love come never again so near me to torment me,
Lest I be found less faithful than, by Thy grace, to-day.
When I was young how fair the skies,
Such folly of cloud, such blue depths wise,
Such dews of morn, such calms of eve,
So many the lure and the reprieve—
Life seemed a toy to break and mend
And make a charm of in the end.
Then slowly all the dew dried up
And only dust lay in the cup;
And since, to slake his thirst, man must,
I sought a cup that had no dust,
And found it at the Goat and Vine—
Mingled of brandy, beer and wine.