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A Minor Poet and other Verse. Levy, Amy, 1861–1889.
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page: 65

Magdalen.

  • ALL things I can endure, save one.
  • The bare, blank room where is no sun ;
  • The parcelled hours ; the pallet hard ;
  • The dreary faces here within ;
  • The outer women’s cold regard ;
  • The Pastor’s iterated “sin” ;—
  • These things could I endure, and count
  • No overstrain’d, unjust amount ;
  • No undue payment for such bliss—
  • Yea, all things bear, save only this :
  • That you, who knew what thing would be,
  • Have wrought this evil unto me.
  • It is so strange to think on still—
  • That you, that you should do me ill !
  • Not as one ignorant or blind,
  • But seeing clearly in your mind
  • How this must be which now has been,
  • Nothing aghast at what was seen.
  • Now that the tale is told and done,
  • It is so strange to think upon.
page: 66
  • You were so tender with me, too !
  • One summer’s night a cold blast blew,
  • Closer about my throat you drew
  • The half‐slipt shawl of dusky blue.
  • And once my hand, on a summer’s morn,
  • I stretched to pluck a rose ; a thorn
  • Struck through the flesh and made it bleed
  • (A little drop of blood indeed !)
  • Pale grew your cheek ; you stoopt and bound
  • Your handkerchief about the wound ;
  • Your voice came with a broken sound ;
  • With the deep breath your breast was riven ;
  • I wonder, did God laugh in Heaven ?
  • How strange, that you should work my woe !
  • How strange ! I wonder, do you know
  • How gladly, gladly I had died
  • (And life was very sweet that tide)
  • To save you from the least, light ill ?
  • How gladly I had borne your pain.
  • With one great pulse we seem’d to thrill,—
  • Nay, but we thrill’d with pulses twain.
  • Even if one had told me this,
  • “A poison lurks within your kiss,
  • Gall that shall turn to night his day :”
  • page: 67
  • Thereon I straight had turned away—
  • Ay, tho’ my heart had crack’d with pain—
  • And never kiss’d your lips again.
  • At night, or when the daylight nears,
  • I hear the other women weep ;
  • My own heart’s anguish lies too deep
  • For the soft rain and pain of tears.
  • I think my heart has turn’d to stone,
  • A dull, dead weight that hurts my breast ;
  • Here, on my pallet‐bed alone,
  • I keep apart from all the rest.
  • Wide‐eyed I lie upon my bed,
  • I often cannot sleep all night ;
  • The future and the past are dead,
  • There is no thought can bring delight.
  • All night I lie and think and think ;
  • If my heart were not made of stone,
  • But flesh and blood, it needs must shrink
  • Before such thoughts. Was ever known
  • A woman with a heart of stone ?
  • The doctor says that I shall die.
  • It may be so, yet what care I ?
  • Endless reposing from the strife ?
  • Death do I trust no more than life.
  • page: 68
  • For one thing is like one arrayed,
  • And there is neither false nor true ;
  • But in a hideous masquerade
  • All things dance on, the ages through.
  • And good is evil, evil good ;
  • Nothing is known or understood
  • Save only Pain. I have no faith
  • In God or Devil, Life or Death.
  • The doctor says that I shall die.
  • You, that I knew in days gone by,
  • I fain would see your face once more,
  • Con well its features o’er and o’er ;
  • And touch your hand and feel your kiss,
  • Look in your eyes and tell you this :
  • That all is done, that I am free ;
  • That you, through all eternity,
  • Have neither part nor lot in me.
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