Poems (Coates 1916)/Volume II/Two Brothers

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For works with similar titles, see Two Brothers.
For other versions of this work, see Two Brothers (Coates).


MY brother's face is turned from me;
He sees a thing I must not see,—
Alas! what may the vision be?

His form is wasted as with pain;
A fever feeds upon his brain
Whose fire, extinguished, burns again.

Sometimes he seems to hear a cry,—
And the ravens croak on the turrets nigh,
And the echoes shudder as they die.

Sometimes a cloud o'er his sight is cast,
And something viewless, whirling past,
Is borne away on the moaning blast.

And still his face is turned from me,
To hide the thing I must not see,—
Alas! what may the vision be?

· · · · · · · ·

Her lips apart, her blue eyes wide,
My mother lay in her state and pride,—
The fairest thing that yet had died!

Like a royal rose,—the story saith,—
Peerless and pale, with a rose's breath
At her parted lips, she lay in death.

Her braids were held by a jewelled dart,—
Her jewelled bodice fell apart,
A jewelled dagger pierced her heart.

To find her foe, men strove in vain;
Again they sought, and yet again,—
But no one mourned with my brother's pain.

For he had loved her from the hour
His father won her with that dower
Of beauty, rare as an aloe's flower.

And she loved him till our father died;
Then something—was it grief or pride?—
Made her as marble at his side.

They say—the vassals of our race—
She wore thenceforth a wintry grace,
Like the frozen scorn on her fair dead face;

And though my brother strove at morn
And eve to comfort her, forlorn,
She met him still with that cruel scorn.

O poor, my Mother! Soon, they say,
She hid herself with her child away,
And looked no longer on the day.

But sometimes, when our towers were white,—
Bathed in the moon's celestial light,—
Her casement opened on the night

All tremulous with mystery,
And, motionless, without a sigh,
She stood there, gazing on the sky;

And they who saw her then, declare
There was nor pride nor passion there,—
Only a tearless, mute despair.

I knew her not,—or if I knew,
Forgot her quickly, as children do,—
Alas! as little children do.

But when she died, men say that I
So plaintive wailed in the chamber nigh,
That summoned thither by the cry,

They brought my brother! In that hour,
He bore me to this lonely tower—
This fortress of our ancient power,

Where ever near me, night and day,—
And happiest with me to stay,—
He kept the vexing world away. . . .

But then, he did not seem to see
The haunting thing so constantly!—
Dear God! what may the riddle be?

· · · · · · · ·

Mother! I scarce have grieved for you,—
So close to me my brother drew—
So gave me all the joys I knew,—

But I am frightened now, and cry,
Stretching my arms out to the sky.
Without my brother's love, I die!

And though I may not understand
Where lies yon far fair Heavenly Land,
I think that soon, hand locked in hand,

We two will find you where you dwell—
Will see the face he loved so well,
And, weeping, all our sorrows tell!

And then,—ah, then, through me beguiled,
You'll smile on him,—as once you smiled,—
On him—so good to your lonely child!