Answer Me

by Adah Isaacs Menken

Adah Isaacs Menken

In from the night.
The storm is lifting his black arms up to the sky.
Friend of my heart, who so gently marks out the lifetrack for me, draw near to-night;
Forget the wailing of the low-voiced wind:
Shut out the moanings of the freezing, and the starving, and the dying, and bend your head low to me:
Clasp my cold, cold hands in yours;
Think of me tenderly and lovingly:
Look down into my eyes the while I question you, and if you love me, answer me-
Oh, answer me!
Is there not a gleam of Peace on all this tiresome earth?
Does not one oasis cheer all this desert-world?
When will all this toil and pain bring me the blessing?
Must I ever plead for help to do the work before me set?
Must I ever stumble and faint by the dark wayside?
Oh the dark, lonely wayside, with its dim-sheeted ghosts peering up through their shallow graves!
Must I ever tremble and pale at the great Beyond?
Must I find Rest only in your bosom, as now I do?
Answer me-
Oh, answer me!
Speak to me tenderly.
Think of me lovingly.
Let your soft hands smooth back my hair.
Take my cold, tear-stained face up to yours.
Let my lonely life creep into your warm bosom, knowing no other rest but this.
Let me question you, while sweet Faith and Trust are folding their white robes around me.
Thus am I purified, even to your love, that came like John the Baptist in the Wilderness of Sin.
You read the starry heavens, and lead me forth.
But tell me if, in this world's Judea, there comes never quiet when once the heart awakes?
Why must it ever hush Love back?
Must it only labor, strive, and ache?
Has it no reward but this?
Has it no inheritance but to bear-and break?
Answer me-
Oh, answer me!
The Storm struggles with the Darkness.
Folded away in your arms, how little do I heed their battle!
The trees clash in vain their naked swords against the door.
I go not forth while the low murmur of your voice is drifting all else back to silence.
The darkness presses his black forehead close to the window pane, and beckons me without.
Love holds a lamp in this little room that hath power to blot back Fear.
But will the lamp ever starve for oil?
Will its blood-red flame ever grow faint and blue?
Will it uprear itself to a slender line of light?
Will it grow pallid and motionless?
Will it sink rayless to everlasting death?
Answer me-
Oh, answer me!
Look at these tear-drops.
See how they quiver and die on your open hands.
Fold these white garments close to my breast, while I question you.
Would you have me think that from the warm shelter of your heart I must go to the grave?
And when I am lying in my silent shroud, will you love me?
When I am buried down in the cold, wet earth, will you grieve that you did not save me?
Will your tears reach my pale face through all the withered leaves that will heap themselves upon my grave?
Will you repent that you loosened your arms to let me fall so deep, and so far out of sight?
Will you come and tell me so, when the coffin has shut out the storm?
Answer me-
Oh, answer me!

Last updated July 05, 2015