Man's Devotion

A poem by James Whitcomb Riley

A lover said, "O Maiden, love me well,
For I must go away:
And should ANOTHER ever come to tell
Of love - What WILL you say?"

And she let fall a royal robe of hair
That folded on his arm
And made a golden pillow for her there;
Her face - as bright a charm

As ever setting held in kingly crown -
Made answer with a look,
And reading it, the lover bended down,
And, trusting, "kissed the book."

He took a fond farewell and went away.
And slow the time went by -
So weary - dreary was it, day by day
To love, and wait, and sigh.

She kissed his pictured face sometimes, and said:
"O Lips, so cold and dumb,
I would that you would tell me, if not dead,
Why, why do you not come?"

The picture, smiling, stared her in the face
Unmoved - e'en with the touch
Of tear-drops - HERS - bejeweling the case -
'Twas plain - she loved him much.

And, thus she grew to think of him as gay
And joyous all the while,
And SHE was sorrowing - "Ah, welladay!"
But pictures ALWAYS smile!

And years - dull years - in dull monotony
As ever went and came,
Still weaving changes on unceasingly,
And changing, changed her name.

Was she untrue? - She oftentimes was glad
And happy as a wife;
But ONE remembrance oftentimes made sad
Her matrimonial life. -

Though its few years were hardly noted, when
Again her path was strown
With thorns - the roses swept away again,
And she again alone!

And then - alas! ah THEN! - her lover came:
"I come to claim you now -
My Darling, for I know you are the same,
And I have kept my vow

Through these long, long, long years, and now no more
Shall we asundered be!"
She staggered back and, sinking to the floor,
Cried in her agony:

"I have been false!" she moaned, "I am not true -
I am not worthy now,
Nor ever can I be a wife to YOU -
For I have broke my vow!"

And as she kneeled there, sobbing at his feet,
He calmly spoke - no sign
Betrayed his inward agony - "I count you meet
To be a wife of mine!"

And raised her up forgiven, though untrue;
As fond he gazed on her,
She sighed, - "SO HAPPY!" And she never knew

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