The Unconquered Air, and Other Poems (1912)/To R. R. On Rereading the "De Profundis" of Oscar Wilde
TO R. R.
ON REREADING THE "DE PROFUNDIS" OF OSCAR WILDE
He stood alone, despairing and forsaken:
Alone he stood, in desolation bare;
From him avenging powers e'en hope had taken:
He looked,—and thou wast there!
Why hadst thou come? Not profit, no: nor pleasure,
Nor any faint desire of selfish gain,
Had moved thee, giving of thy heart's pure treasure,
To share a culprit's pain.
In that drear place, as thou hadst lonely waited
To greet with noble friendship one who came
Handcuffed from prison, pointed at, and hated,
Bowed low in mortal shame,
No thought hadst thou of any special merit,
So simple, natural, seemed that action fine
Which kept alive, in a despairing spirit,
The spark of the divine,
And taught a dying soul that love is deathless,
Even as when its holiest accents fell
Upon a woman's heart who listened, breathless,
By a Samarian well.