BEHOLD it was this very night:
Outwearied with the plaintive rain.
I rose, 1 cast her from my sight –
Who loves, must love in vain.
Her tears were sweet; I did not wince;
More poignant sorrow none could know;
She fled; I have not seen her since;
It was so long ago.
I cast her from me and she fled.
I flung the casements back; the wind
Bespattered her unhappy bed.
God, how my anguish grinned!
Perchance a hundred years have ceased.
The clamorous city laughed out loud;
Upon her flesh they dared to feast:
It was as I had vowed.
A thousand lifeless years are nought –
They hounded her from street to kerb,
From hall to hut, from camp to court,
Sublime, supreme, superb.
My fault it was, O courtesan,
Because I praised your beauty so.
That there was known to every man,
My love, and thus my woe :
Too pure you were for them to guess
Your being; but once known to men
They told your shameful loveliness :
You were a harlot then.
Wherefore I flung her from my sight.
She fled forth wailing and I laughed:
The mob might mouth her piteous plight.
And match with mine their craft.
Behold, it was this very day
The hideous city ravaged her:
How still the black years ebb and sway –
Now she shall never stir.
So long ago they brought her in.
All clattering up the creaking stair –
She was so pale, so frail, so thin;
Dead, and I kissed her hair.
So gentle in her death she seemed.
Not ever more adorable.
Once when with love her hot blood gleamed,
She was so pale, so still.
Most sensual Death I – this then is she –
I know not what my sorrow knows :
My life and these my kisses – see –
Her coffin shall enclose
And now that years on years have been
Like spindrift hurried gust on gust –
These lustful ages, they have seen
Her most lascivious dust !
(E J Rupert Atkinson)
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Based on Keywords: spindrift, lustful, hounded, adorable, courtesan, kerb, outwearied, bespattered