Poems (Coates 1916)/Volume II/In Loneliness
ISEULT OF BRITTANY
THEY are at rest.
How still it is—and cold!
The morrow comes; the night is growing old.
They are at rest. Why then, unresting, keep
In vigil lone, a pain that will not sleep—
An anguish, only to itself confessed,
That hushed a moment lies,
Then wakes to sudden eager life, and cries?
Ah, me! The wind wails by,
Like to a grief that would but cannot die.
How sore the heart can ache,
Yet beat and beat and beat, and never break!
(Hearken!—Was that a child's awaking cry?)
It was the sea—the ever troubled sea!
My little ones, it was the sea,
That moans unceasingly
One dear refrain repeating o'er and o'er:—
"Tristram returns no more—
Tristram returns, returns—ah, never more!"
Ashen the fire,—
Ashen: like dead desire.
The dawn breaks chill,
The children, sleeping, think their father here.
O Tristram! might I, also, dream you near!—
Mine—mine without regret!
As when I nursed your wound, and taught you to forget
The cruel torment of your love for her,—
The poisoned wine, the still avenging hate,
The ship, the pain, the unrepenting Fate,
The yearning that is death, yet doth not kill!
(Sleep, little ones! your mother guards you still.)
They are at rest,
Their sorrows over.
Forgetful of the tortured past,
They are at rest at last,
Sad lover by sad lover.
Oh, drear to me
The voices of the sea-birds, and the sea—
The sea that moans against the shore,
"Tristram returns no more,
Returns—ah, never, never more!"