Knowing the years of our delight were past,
And those seductive days no more could lure,
I sought religion's fetters to make fast
The sinful heart, that purposed to be pure.
In this seclusion, to conceal my shame:
In this asylum, to forget. Alas!
The very silence shouts aloud your name:
Through every sunbeam does your radiance pass.
I fled, to leave your image far behind,
I pictured you the enemy of hope,
Yet, still I seek you, seek you in my mind,
And down the aisles of memory I grope.
I hate, I love, I pray, and I despair,
I blame myself, and grief is everywhere.
Religion bids me hold my thoughts in check,
Since love in me can have no further part;
But as wild billows dash upon a wreck,
So passions rise and beat upon my heart.
The habit of the penitent I wear,
The altars where I grovel bring no peace;
God gives not heed nor answer to my prayer,
Because the flames within me do not cease:
They are but hid with ashes, and I lack
The strength to flood them with a grace divine,
For memory forever drags me back
And bids me worship at the olden shrine.
Your image rises, shrouded in its veil,
And all my resolutions droop and fail.
* * * * * * * *
This mortal love, when dwelt upon with joy,
The love of God may not annihilate.
Oh, would you with old memories destroy
My piety, in its incipient state?
My vows to God grow feeble in the war
With thoughts of you, and Duty's voices die,
Unanswered, down my soul's dark corridor,
While through my heart sweeps passion's desperate cry.
And can you hear confessions such as these,
And thrust your love between my God and me?
Withdraw yourself, unhappy Heloise,
Be heaven's alone, and let my life go free.
Drain sorrow's chalice, bravely take your cross;
To win back God, lies through the creature's loss.
Current Literature 42 (March 1907): 341.
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