The Beggar's Valentine

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The Beggar's Valentine
by Nicholas Vachel Lindsay
published in General William Booth enters into Heaven, and other poems

THE BEGGAR'S VALENTINE

KISS me and comfort my heart
    Maiden honest and fine.
I am the pilgrim boy
    Lame, but hunting the shrine;

Fleeing away from the sweets,
    Seeking the dust and rain,
Sworn to the staff and road,
    Scorning pleasure and pain;

Nevertheless my mouth
    Would rest like a bird an hour
And fine in your curls a nest
    And find in your breast a bower:

Nevertheless my eyes
    Would lose themselves in your own,
Rivers that seek the sea,
    Angels before the throne:

Kiss me and comfort my heart,
    For love can never be mine:
Passion, hunger and pain,
    These are the only wine

Of the pilgrim bound to the road.
    He would rob no man of his own.
Your heart is another's I know,
    Your honor is his alone.

The feasts of a long drawn love,
    The feats of a wedded life,
The harvests of patient years,
    And hearthstone and children and wife:

These are your lords I know.
    These can never be mine—
This is the price I pay
    For the foolish search for the shrine:

This is the price I pay
    For the joy of my midnight prayers,
Kneeling beneath the moon
    With hills for my altar stairs;

This is the price I pay
    For the throb of the mystic wings,

When the dove of God comes down
    And beats round my heart and sings;

This is the price I pay
    For the light I shall some day see
At the ends of the infinite earth
    When truth shall come to me.

And what if my body die
    Before I meet the truth?
The road is dear, more dear
    Than love or life or youth.

The road, it is the road,
    Mystical, endless, kind,
Mother of visions vast,
    Mother of soul and mind;

Mother of all of me
    But the blood that cries for a mate—
That cries for a farewell kiss
    From the child of God at the gate.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1931, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.