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THE WORST OF IT.
Would it were I had been false, not you !
I that am nothing, not you that are all : I, never the worse for a touch or two
On my speckled hide; not you, the pride Of the day, my swan, that a first fleck’s fall.
On her wonder of white must unswan, undo!
I had dipped in life's struggle, and out again,
Bore specks of it here, there, easy to see, When I found my swan and the cure was plain ;
The dull turned bright as I caught your white On my bosom: you saved me—saved in vain
If you ruined yourself, and all through me!
Yes, all through the speckled beast that I am,
Who taught you to stoop; you gave me yourself, And bound your soul by the vows that damn :
Since on better thought you break, as you ought, Vows-words, no angel set down, some elf
Mistook,—for an oath, an epigram!
Yes, might I judge you, here were my heart,
And a hundred its like, to treat as you pleased ! I choose to be yours, for my proper part,
Yours, leave or take, or mar me or make; If I acquiesce, why should you be teased
With the conscience-prick and the memory-smart?
But what will God say? Oh, my sweet,
Think, and be sorry you did this thing! Though earth were unworthy to feel your feet,
There is a Heaven above may deserve your love: Should you forfeit Heaven for a snapt gold ring
And a promise broke, were it just or meet ?
And I to have tempted you! I, who tried
Your soul, no doubt, till it sank! Unwise, I loved, and was lowly, loved and aspired,
Loved, grieving or glad, till I made you mad, And you meant to have hated and despised —
Whereas, you deceived me nor inquired !
She, ruined ? How? No Heaven for her ?
Crowns to give, and none for the brow
Shall the robe be worn, and the palm-branch borne, And she go graceless, she graced now
Beyond all saints, as themselves aver ?
Hardly! That must be understood !
The earth is your place of penance, then ;
But, plot as I may, I can find no way
Nor prove too much for your womanhood.