The Image In The Glass.

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein


The slow reflection of a woman's face
Grew, as by witchcraft, in the oval space
Of that strange glass on which the moon looked in:
As cruel as death beneath the auburn hair
The dark eyes burned; and, o'er the faultless chin,
Evil as night yet as the daybreak fair,
Rose-red and sensual smiled the mouth of sin.


The glorious throat and shoulders and, twin crests
Of snow, the splendid beauty of the breasts,
Filled soul and body with the old desire
Daughter of darkness! how could this thing be?
You, whom I loathed! for whom my heart's fierce fire
Had burnt to ashes of satiety!
You, who had sunk my soul in all that's dire!


How came your image there? and in that room!
Where she, the all adored, my life's sweet bloom,
Died poisoned! She, my scarcely one week's bride
Yea, poisoned by a gift you sent to her,
Thinking her death would win me to your side.
And so it did! but... well, it made some stir
By your own hand, I think, they said you died.


Time passed. And then was it the curse of crime,
That night of nights, which forced my feet to climb
To that locked bridal-room? 'T was midnight when
A longing, like to madness, mastered me,
Compelled me to that chamber, which for ten
Sad years was sealed; a dark necessity
To gaze upon I knew not what again.


Love's ghost, perhaps. Or, in the curvature
Of that strange mirror, something that might cure
The ache in me some message, said perchance
Of her dead loveliness, which once it glassed,
That might repeat again my lost romance
In momentary pictures of the past,
While in its depths her image swam in trance.


I did not dream to see the soulless eyes
Of you I hated; nor the lips where lies
And kisses curled; your features, that were tuned
To all demonic, smiling up as might
Some deep damnation! while... my God! I swooned!.
Oozed slowly out, between the breast's dead white,
The ghastly red of that wide dagger-wound.

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