If days should pass without a written word
To tell me of thy welfare, and if days
Should lengthen out to weeks, until the maze
Of questioning fears confused me, and I heard.
Life-sounds as echoes; and one came and said
After these weeks of waiting: "He is dead!"
Though the quick sword had found the vital part,
And the life-blood must mingle with the tears,
I think that, as the dying soldier hears
The cries of victory, and feels his heart
Surge with his country's triumph-hour, I could
Hope bravely on, and feel that God was good.
I could take up my thread of life again
And weave my pattern though the colors were
Faded forever. Though I might not dare
Dream often of thee, I should know that when
Death came to thee upon thy lips my name
Lingered, and lingers ever without blame.
Aye, lingers ever. Though we may not know
Much that our spirits crave, yet is it given
To us to feel that in the waiting Heaven
Great souls are greater, and if God bestow
A mighty love He will not let it die
Through the vast ages of eternity.
But if some day the bitter knowledge swept
Down on my life, - bearing my treasured freight
To founder on the shoals of scorn, - what Fate
Smiling with awful irony had kept
Till life grew sweeter, - that my god was clay,
That 'neath thy strength a lurking weakness lay;
That thou, whom I had deemed a man of men
Faulty, as great men are, but with no taint
Of baseness, - with those faults that shew the saint
Of after days, perhaps, - wert even then
When first I loved thee but a spreading tree
Whose leaves shewed not its roots' deformity;
I should not weep, for there are wounds that lie
Too deep for tears, - and Death is but a friend
Who loves too dearly, and the parting end
Of Love's joy-day a paltry pain, a cry
To God, then peace, - beside the torturing grief
When honor dies, and trust, and soul's belief.
Travellers have told that in the Java isles
The upas-tree breathes its dread vapor out
Into the air; there needs no hand about
Its branches for the poison's deadly wiles
To work a strong man's hurt, for there is death
Envenomed, noisome, in his every breath.
So would I breathe thy poison in my soul,
Till all that had been wholesome, pure, and true
Shewed its decay, and stained and wasted grew.
Though sundered as the distant Northern Pole
From his far sister, I should bear thy blight
Upon me as I passed into the night.
Didst dream thy truth and honor meant so much
To me, Dear Heart? Oh! I am full of tears
To-night, of longing, love and foolish fears.
Would I might see thee, know thy tender touch,
For Time is long, and though I may not will
To question Fate, I am a woman still.