Lord, he was meant for her, and she for him,
The living with the living, young in love,
While I within the realms of prospects dim
Despise not that which I may not remove:
My fate! to be susceptible to life,
But lain in prison with the many dead,
To feel my hope shorn from me with a knife,
Gladdened by this, that they love in my stead.
For it is now my chosen, once despised
Office to bear a witness to the days
That these young lovers pass, so highly prized,
Forever matter of a poet's praise.
For she could not be mine, not for the taking,
Because my crusty heart's beyond all breaking.
Lord, though I may despise him, let me not,
For were I him, I would as greedily
Allow my sense to drink up what he's got
Conversing there with her, observed by me.
Despise him? Why? When in the race of life
Than mine his footsteps have been shown the swifter,
Not having stopped to drink this cup of strife
That is my own; and how his spirits lift her!
For that which I have drunk, has made me ill,
Full undiluted consciousness receiving,
Remembrance of world-sorrows which so fill
My heart and render it beyond all grieving;
For many years ago they passed the brim
Of what was bearable. She looks at him.
Content in this, that I set down in verse
The many splendid facets of a love
It has been mine to know, and knowing, curse,
Because that which I know I cannot prove.
For even weeping long ago was stopped,
Heart's insularity firmly ensconcing
Itself from further hope, that which was dropped
As soon as love had ceased to be entrancing.
No, what they have (these words I tell myself)
Is something I should not want to possess,
Their love—best put upon the highest shelf
Unreachable. I hear her murmur yes,
Which "yes" so penetrates, and harms my brain,
That in my stoicism, I fall slain.
No, she could not be mine, not for the having,
For I so many years ago departed
This weary realm of misery and slaving
For things which only leave one broken-hearted.
To love and be in love! Such tender folly,
As I may never hope again to feel,
Forsaking all for poesy's melancholy,
A folly all its own, and all unreal.
A folly so to gaze upon the face
Wherein all poetry originates,
Love's face, a folly in my mind to trace
Its contours, gentleness that never sates.
For life is all unreal, not seeming so,
That face too beautiful—and so I go.