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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
That looked like marble and smelt like myrrh?

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 ;
And what will it prove ? I desire your good,

But, plot as I may, I can find no way
How a blow should fall, such as falls on men,

Nor prove too much for your womanhood.

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