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A Lover's Litanies

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i. O thou refulgent essence of all grace!O thou that with the witchery of thy faceHast made of me thy servant unto death,I pray thee pause, ere, musical of breath,And rapt of utterance, thou condemn indeedMy venturous wooing, and the wanton speedWith which I greet thee, dear and tender soul!From out the fullness of my passion-creed. ii.

I am so truly thine that nevermoreShall man be found, this side the Stygian shore,So meek as I, so patient under blame,And yet, withal, so minded to proclaimHis life-long ardour. For my theme is just:A heart enslaved, a smile, a broken trust,A soft mirage, a glimpse of fairyland,And then the wreck thereof in tears and dust. iii. Thou wast not made for murder, yet a glanceMay murderous prove; and beauty may entrance,More than a syren's or a serpent's eye.And there are moments when a smother'd sighMay hint at comfort and a murmur'd "No"Give signs of "Yes," and Misery's overflowMake tears more precious than we care to tell,Though, one by one, our hopes we must forego. iv.

I should have shunn'd thee as a man may shunHis evil hour. I should have curst the sunThat made the day so bright and earth so fairWhen first we met, delirium through the airBurning like fire! I should have curst the moonAnd all the stars that, dream-like, in a swoonShut out the day,—the lov'd, the lovely dayThat came too late and left us all too soon. v. I look'd at thee, and lo! from face to feet,I saw my tyrant, and I felt the beatOf my quick pulse. I knew thee for a queenAnd bow'd submissive; and the smile sereneOf thy sweet face reveal'd the soul of thee.For I was wounded as a man may beWhom Eros tricks with words he will not prove;And all my peace of mind went out from me. vi.

Oh, why didst cheer me with the thought of bliss,And wouldst not pay me back my luckless kiss?I sought thy side. I gave thee of my storeOne wild salute. A flame was at the coreOf that first kiss; and on my mouth I feelThe glow thereof, the pressure and the seal,As if thy nature, when the deed was done,Had leapt to mine in lightning-like appeal. vii. If debts were paid in full I might requireMore than my kiss. I might, in time, aspireTo some new bond, or re-enact the first.For once, thou know'st, the love for which I thirst,The love for which I hunger'd in thy sight,Was not withheld. I deem'd thee, day and night,Mine own true mate, and sent thee token flowersTo figure forth the hopes I'd fain indite. viii.

Is this not so? Canst thou detend, in truth,The sunlike smile with which, in flush of youth,Thou didst accept my greeting,—though so late,—My love-lorn homage when the voice of FateFell from thy lips, and made me twice a manBecause half thine, in that betrothal-planWhereof I spake, not knowing how 'twould beWhen May had marr'd the prospects it began? ix. Can'st thou deny that, early in the spring,When daisies droop'd, and birds were fain to sing,We met, and talk'd, and walk'd, and were contentIn sunlit paths?...