Friday, November 5, 2010

A Denial

A Denial

We have met late-it is too late to meet,
   O friend, not more than friend!
Death's forecome shroud is tangled round my feet,
And if I step or stir, I touch the end.
   In this last jeopardy
Can I approach thee, I, who cannot move?
How shall I answer thy request for love?
   Look in my face and see.

I love thee not, I dare not love thee! go
   In silence; drop my hand.
If thou seek roses, seek them where they blow
In garden-alleys, not in desert-sand.
   Can life and death agree,
That thou shouldst stoop thy song to my complaint?
I cannot love thee. If the word is faint,
   Look in my face and see.

I might have loved thee in some former days.
   Oh, then, my spirits had leapt
As now they sink, at hearing thy love-praise!
Before these faded cheeks were overwept,
   Had this been asked of me,
To love thee with my whole strong heart and head,
I should have said still . . . yes, but smiled and said,
   "Look in my face and see!"

But now . . . God sees me, God, who took my heart
   And drowned it in life's surge.
In all your wide warm earth I have no part
A light song overcomes me like a dirge.
   Could Love's great harmony
The saints keep step to when their bonds are loose,
Not weigh me down? Am I a wife to choose?
   Look in my face and see.

While I behold, as plain as one who dreams,
   Some woman of full worth,
Whose voice, as cadenced as a silver stream's,
Shall prove the fountain-soul which sends it forth;
   One younger, more thought-free
And fair and gay, than I, thou must forget,
With brighter eyes than these . . . which are not wet . . .
   Look in my face and see!

So farewell thou, whom I have known too late
   To let thee come so near.
Be counted happy while men call thee great,
And one belovèd woman feels thee dear!
   Not I! That cannot be.
I am lost, I am changed, I must go farther, where
The change shall take me worse, and no one dare
   Look in my face and see.

Meantime I bless thee. By these thoughts of mine
   I bless thee from all such!
I bless thy lamp to oil, thy cup to wine,
Thy hearth to joy, thy hand to an equal touch
   Of loyal troth. For me,
I love thee not, I love thee not! Away!
Here's no more courage in my soul to say
   "Look in my face and see."
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Anonymous said...

A charm invests a face
Imperfectly beheld.
The lady dare not lift her veil
For fear it be dispelled.

But peers beyond her mesh
Andwishes, and denies,
'Lest interview annul a want
That image satisfies.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...


I do love Emily Dickinson!
Thank you!

Scarlett & Viaggiatore