Beatrice (Lowell)

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Beatrice (Lowell)
by James Russell Lowell
Featured in Vol 2., No.1 of The Atlantic Monthly.

Beatrice

 How was I worthy so divine a loss,
    Deepening my midnights, kindling all my morns?
  Why waste such precious wood to make my cross,
    Such far-sought roses for my crown of thorns?

  And when she came, how earned I such a gift?
    Why spend on me, a poor earth-delving mole,
  The fireside sweetnesses, the heavenward lift,
    The hourly mercy of a woman's soul?

  Ah, did we know to give her all her right,
    What wonders even in our poor clay were done!
  It is not Woman leaves us to our night,
    It is our earth that grovels from her sun.

  Our nobler cultured fields and gracious domes
    We whirl too oft from her who still shines on
  To light in vain our caves and clefts, the homes
    Of night-bird instincts pained till she be gone.

  Still must this body starve our souls with shade;
    But when Death makes us what we were before,
  Then shall her sunshine all our depths invade,
    And not a shadow stain heaven's crystal floor.

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.