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Unformatted text preview: upon Despair came, like a blast that would have brought Tears to the eyes of all the bears in Finland, And love was done. That was how much I knew. Poor little wretch! I wonder where he is This afternoon. Out of this rain, I hope. At last, when I had seen so many days Dressed all alike, and in their marching order, Go by me that I would not always count them, One stopped -- shattering the whole file of Time, Or so it seemed; and when I looked again, There was a man. He struck once with his eyes, And then there was a woman. I, who had come To wisdom, or to vision, or what you like, By the old hidden road that has no name, -- I, who was used to seeing without flying So much that others fly from without seeing, Still looked, and was afraid, and looked again. And after that, when I had read the story Told in his eyes, and felt within my heart The bleeding wound of their necessity, I knew the fear was his. If I had failed him And flown away from him, I should have lost Ingloriously my wings in scrambling back, And found them arms again. If he had struck me Not only with his eyes
53 The Three Taverns A Book of Poems By Edwin Arlington Robinson but with his hands, I might have pitied him and hated love, And then gone mad. I, who have been so strong -- Why don't you laugh? -- might even have done all that. I, who have learned so much, and said so much, And had the commendations of the great For one who rules herself -- why don't you cry? -- And own a certain small authority Among the blind, who see no more than ever, But like my voice, -- I would have tossed it all To Tophet for one man; and he was jealous. I would have wound a snake around my neck And then have let it bite me till I died, If my so doing would have made me sure That one man might have lived; and he was jealous. I would have driven these hands into a cage That held a thousand scorpions, and crushed them, If only by so poisonous a trial I could have crushed his doubt. I would have wrung My living blood with mediaeval engines Out of my screaming flesh, if only that Would have made one man sure. I would have paid For him the tiresome price of body and soul, And let the lash of a tongue-weary town Fall as it might upon my blistered name; And while it fell I could have laughed at it, Knowing that he had found out finally Where the wrong was. But there was evil in him That would have made no more of his possession Than confirmation of another fault; And there was honor -- if you call it honor That hoods itself with doubt and wears a crown Of lead that might as well be gold and fire. Give it as heavy or as light a name As any there is that fits. I see myself Without the power to swear to this or that That I might be if he had been without it. Whatever I might have been that I was not, It only happened that it wasn't so. Meanwhile, you might seem to be listening: If you forget yourself and go to sleep, My treasure, I shall not say this again. Look up once more into my poor old face, Where you see b...
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