If, After All ...!

A poem by Richard Le Gallienne

This life I squander, hating the long days
That will not bring me either Rest or Thee,
This health I hack and ravage as with knives,
These nerves I fain would shatter, and this heart
I fain would break - this heart that, traitor-like,
Beats on with foolish and elastic beat:
If, after all, this life I waste and kill
Should still be thine, may still be lived for thee!
And this the dreadful trial of my love,
This silence and this blank that makes me mad,
That I be man to-day of all the days
My one poor hope of meeting thee again -
If Death be Love, and God's great purpose kind!

Oh, love, if some day on the heavenly stair
A wild ecstatic moment we should stand,
And I, all hungry for your eyes and hair,
Should meet instead your great accusing gaze,
And hear, instead of welcome into heaven:
'Ah! hadst thou but been true! but manfully
Borne the high pangs that all high souls must bear,
Nor fled to low nepenthes for your pain!
Hadst said - "Is she not here? more reason then
To live as though still guarded by her eyes,
Cleaner my thought, and purer be my deed;
True will I be, though God Himself be false!"'

Oh, hadst thou thus been man, to-day had we
Walked on together undivided now -
But now a thousand flaming years must pass,
And all the trial be gone o'er again.

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