by Alfred Austin
If I to you but sorrow bring,
But aching hours and brackish tears,
And that poor drooping Hope whose wing
Flags 'neath the weight of clogging fears,
Then let me in the desert hide
This fatal gift, this feverish breast;
Or, better,'neath the sounding tide
Be hushed, and evermore at rest.
What recks it if at length I lie
In my cold bed of narrow earth,
And neither wave, nor sun, nor sky,
Vex me with its untimely mirth?
Have I not known what 'tis to hold
In pulsing arms your bounding heart?
Oh come, dear Death! and make them cold,
If life can do no more than part!
For even then at times would stir
The veins that now with passion glow,
And I, within my sepulchre,
Anon should warm and conscious grow.
The pulse would throb, the bosom wake,
And crave the joy they once had known,
And 'twere as easy, for your sake,
To find me there, as here, alone.
And then I feel that you would come,
Would pierce the sod, would cleave the wave,
And as my heart was waxing numb,
Would at my side a pillow crave.
And I should start, and live, and find
In narrow bounds, but tight embrace,
The bliss Despair had left behind,
And never thought again to face.
The world is wide, but tell me where,
Where shall I wander and not see,
See, hear, and feel, on earth, in air,
Something that doth remind of thee?
If I ascend to heaven, thou
Wilt be my first, sole seraph there;
And did I don the demon's brow,
Wouldst all my dear damnation share!
Not good nor ill, not life nor death,
Not dark, not light, not joy, not smart,
Not one of these betokeneth
What unto me thou-loved one-art!
Thou art my first, my last, my all,
What keeps me here, what calls me hence-
At once my freedom and my thrall,
My centre, my circumference!
Last updated January 14, 2019