Poems of Sentiment and Imagination/To — (Frances)
Had I not known all that the heart can tell
Of bliss or sorrow, ere thy love was told,
My heart had broken at thy last farewell—
Proud, tender, thrilling, yet that seemed so cold.
But sad regret was all that I could give—
Regret, that all that might have been my own
My heart rejected loathingly, to live
In its mute passion, grieving and alone;
And a sharp sorrow for the pang I gave,
Though it had been thy "double death" to save.
'Twas no new tale that thy lips whispered me;
It is the curse of genius thus to steal
The hearts of many after it, yet be
Lonely and longing ever; and to feel
That though 'tis love we want, the love we win
Is a poor, earthly sense, to which the dream
We cherish is a heavenly; and the sin
Of hollow-heartedness is made to seem
Ours, and a strange ingratitude, while we
Crush in our full hearts our hushed misery.
Yet not thus thou: there was a nobleness
That won me unto thee as friend to friend;
And though I could not suffer thy caress,
Nor to thy love a joyful listening lend,
It was a joy sometimes to hear thy tone,
In its full depth more eloquent than song,
Blend with the spell of poesy its own,
And in its soothing cadence flow along,
While my heart stole the music of the rhyme,
And beat harmoniously with the sweet chime.
Thy praise was pleasant and thy kindness dear,
And all was won that can be given, but love;
And that was a closed fountain; not a tear,
Of all its old-time fullness would there move
To the wild breath of passion! all was still.
The calm but mocked the tumult in thy soul,
And Hope's death brought the agonies that kill;
While all thy manhood struggled for control,
My heart was writhing in its bitterness,
That it could not be loved, and yet loved less.
And for this we are parted. Each has lost
Something they prized the highest; and both feel
As if their path of fortune had been crossed:
Thou with thy wound too rankling soon to heal,
And me with my sad heart made still more sad;
But in the hearts of both is a consoling grief,
A mournfulness more sweet than being glad,
That could not find in pleasure a relief;
Yet would I lose my memory of thee,
To know thy burdened spirit once more free.