“A stone upon her heart and head,
But no name written on that stone;
Sweet neighbours whisper low instead,
This sinner was a loving one.”
— Mrs. Browning.
'Tis a nameless stone that stands at your head —
The gusts in the gloomy gorges whirl
Brown leaves and red till they cover your bed —
Now I trust that your sleep is a sound one, girl!
I said in my wrath, when his shadow cross'd
From your garden gate to your cottage door,
“What does it matter for one soul lost?
Millions of souls have been lost before.”
Yet I warn'd you — ah! but my words came true —
“Perhaps some day you will find him out.”
He who was not worthy to loosen your shoe,
Does his conscience therefore prick him? I doubt.
You laughed and were deaf to my warning voice —
Blush'd and were blind to his cloven hoof —
You have had your chance, you have taken your choice
How could I help you, standing aloof?
He has prosper'd well with the world — he says
I am mad — if so, and if he be sane,
I, at least, give God thanksgiving and praise
That there lies between us one difference plain.
* * * * *
You in your beauty above me bent
In the pause of a wild west country ball —
Spoke to me — touched me without intent —
Made me your servant for once and all.
Light laughter rippled your rose-red lip,
And you swept my cheek with a shining curl,
That stray'd from your shoulder's snowy tip —
Now I pray that your sleep is a sound one, girl!
From a long way off to look at your charms
Made my blood run redder in every vein,
And he — he has held you long in his arms,
And has kiss'd you over and over again.
Is it well that he keeps well out of my way?
If we met, he and I — we alone — we two —
Would I give him one moment's grace to pray?
Not I, for the sake of the soul he slew.
A life like a shuttlecock may be toss'd
With the hand of fate for a battledore;
But it matters much for your sweet soul lost,
As much as a million souls and more.
And I know that if, here or there, alone,
I found him, fairly and face to face,
Having slain his body, I would slay my own,
That my soul to Satan his soul might chase.
He hardens his heart in the public way —
Who am I? I am but a nameless churl;
But God will put all things straight some day —
Till then may your sleep be a sound one, girl!
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