Love gives but as Love will: this have I proved,
Who through long wistful years have vainly loved,
Yet find my life at last on death's sheer brink—
From lethal fountains purest rapture drink.
You know 't was not my right to dream of her,
Though I had served her long—love's pensioner—
Grateful for modest favor at her hands,
For mere acceptance, or for mild commands;
But on that night, across the theatre
I saw her come, and felt the restless stir
Of mad desires held in leash till then:
A longing to stand equal with the men
Who, for no merit, dared to keep her side,
Suspecting not the barriers that divide
Natures like hers from those of meaner birth.
I knew her throned above me, felt the worth
Of things they recked not of—her richest dower—
Yet longed that life should yield me for one hour
The right to stand before her—even as these?
Nay; but the right to fall before her knees,