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Poem by Madison Julius Cawein
Those were the days of doubt. How clear It all comes back! This ribbon, see? Brings that far past so very near I lose my own identity, And seem two beings: one that's here, And one back in that century Of cowardice and fear, Wherein I met with love and her, When I was but a wanderer. Those were the days of doubt, I said: I doubted all things; even God. Within my heart there was no dread Of Hell or Heaven. Never a rod Was there to smite; no mercy led: And man's reward was death: a clod He was, alive or dead. Those were the days of doubt; and so I scoffed at all things, high and low. And then I met her. Fair and frail, A girl whose soul was as a flame That burns within the Holy Grael; And through her eyes shone clear the same Fanatic fire, pure and pale, That once put Sisera to shame In the dark eyes of Jael, When, leading him into her tent, She used the nail as argument. There was no argument of grace She did not use; no dogma, wrought Of sophistry, she did not place Before me, leading up my thought To Heaven from the fearful maze Of Hell, wherein God's angels fought With fiends, on darkling ways. I listened but in her young look Was more for me than in God's Book. She seemed a priestess. Heaven to be Was in her face. A ribbon bound Her hair like a phylactery. This is the band. I took it; wound And laid it on my heart. Ah me! No other argument I found As good as that. Convincingly It held me sane and sound. And I have kept it here alway Since first she gave it me that day. "Where is she now"? I do not know. She is the wife of one whose hand, Stretched forth to aid me long-ago, Took from me more than all this land In her own self, and gave me woe To take her place. As here I stand I stood and took the blow, While in my heart I looked and saw The love that fiiled my soul with awe. And did she love me? Am I sure? Ah, while I heard angelic hosts Of Heaven singing love, there were Black wings about me: all the ghosts Of all my doubts. I heard them stir, And so drew back from those bright coasts Of happiness with her. Despite the love within my heart Doubt entered, and began its part. Make no mistake. I loved her; ay! And she loved me as women love The thing they save. I spoke my lie, That by my lie I so might prove Her love, and with the proof defy The doubt, whose shadow hung above, Watching with jealous eye. So I denied love. Played a part And, playing it, broke my own heart. The better part of me then died; I killed her love, not mine. You see I keep this ribbon here, she tied My heart to hers with. Silkenly It says, "She is another's bride. Through me now keep in memory Your doubt was justified. She did not love you. She could change." I keep the ribbon. Is it strange?
Madison Julius Cawein
Madison Julius Cawein's other poems:
English Poetry. E-mail email@example.com