Bluebeard’s First Wife

Leon Gellert 1892 - 1977

I lie by the garden wall,
Buried and all alone;
The brown camellias fall
One by one on the stone.

Buried and all alone,
Because I had loved the sky!
One by one on the stone
The blossoms shudder and die.

Because I had loved the sky—
The dark blue face of the sea!
(The blossoms shudder and die)
He murdered me at his knee.

The dark, blue face of the sea.
Nothing so dark as the tomb!
He murdered me at his knee.
I knew the truth of the room!

Nothing so dark as the tomb
For the vile revenge of the vain.
I knew the truth of the room
And the price of his hidden stain.

For the vile revenge of the vain
I suffered the knife at my skin,
And the price of his hidden stain
Was two and eleven a tin!

I suffered the knife at my skin;
I knew the dye that he used
Was two and eleven a tin.
I confess I was somewhat amused.

I knew the dye that he used.
I heard the stitch of my shroud.
I confess I was somewhat amused
At the fury that burst like a cloud.

I heard the stitch of my shroud,
And all of the world disappeared
At the fury that burst like a cloud
From the heaven’s blue of his beard.

And all of the world disappeared!
I lie by the garden wall.
From the heaven’s blue of his beard
The brown camellias fall.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Leon Gellert

Leon Maxwell Gellert was an Australian poet. He was born in Walkerville, a suburb of Adelaide, South Australia. He was subjected to bullying by his father, a Methodist of Hungarian extraction, to which he reacted by learning self-defence at the YMCA. After an education at Adelaide High School, he embarked on a teaching career; first as a student-teacher at Unley High School then at the University of Adelaide's Teacher Training College. He enlisted with the Australian Imperial Forces 10th Battalion within weeks of the outbreak of the Great War and sailed for Cairo on 22 October 1914. He landed at Ari Burnu Beach, Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, was wounded and repatriated as medically unfit in June 1916. He attempted to re-enlist but was soon found out. He returned to teaching at Norwood Public School. During periods of inactivity he had been indulging his appetite for writing poetry. Songs of a Campaign was his first published book of verse, and was favourably reviewed by The Bulletin. Angus & Robertson soon published a new edition, illustrated by Norman Lindsay. His second, The Isle of San, also illustrated by Lindsay, was not so well received however. more…

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"Bluebeard’s First Wife" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 4 Aug. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/25419/bluebeard’s-first-wife>.

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