The Wife

A poem by John Charles McNeill

They locked him in a prison cell,
Murky and mean.
She kissed him there a wife's farewell
The bars between.
And when she turned to go, the crowd,
Thinking to see her shamed and bowed,
Saw her pass out as calm and proud
As any queen.

She passed a kinsman on the street,
To whose sad eyes
She made reply with smile as sweet
As April skies.
To one who loved her once and knew
The sorrow of her life, she threw
A gay word, ere his tale was due
Of sympathies.

She met a playmate, whose red rose
Had never a thorn,
Whom fortune guided when she chose
Her marriage morn,
And, smiling, looked her in the eye;
But, seeing the tears of sympathy,
Her smile died, and she passed on by
In quiet scorn.

They could not know how, when by night
The city slept,
A sleepless woman, still and white,
The watches kept;
How her wife-loyal heart had borne
The keen pain of a flowerless thorn,
How hot the tears that smiles and scorn
Had held unwept.

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