Classic and Contemporary Poetry
THE BLIND GIRL, by JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY Poet's Biography
First Line: If I might see his face to-day!
Last Line: Of blindness -- both for him and her.
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson Of Boone, Benj. F.
Subject(s): Absence; Blindness; Faces; Love; Separation; Isolation; Visually Handicapped
IF I might see his face to-day! --
He is so happy now! -- To hear
His laugh is like a roundelay --
So ringing-sweet and clear!
His step -- I heard it long before
He bounded through the open door
To tell his marriage. -- Ah! so kind --
So good he is! -- And I -- so blind!
But thus he always came to me --
Me, first of all, he used to bring
His sorrow to -- his ecstasy --
His hopes and everything;
And if I joyed with him or wept,
It was not long the music slept, --
And if he sung, or if I played --
Or both, -- we were the braver made.
I grew to know and understand
His every word at every call, --
The gate-latch hinted, and his hand
In mine confessed it all:
He need not speak one word to me --
He need not sigh -- I need not see, --
But just the one touch of his palm,
And I would answer -- song or psalm.
He wanted recognition -- name --
He hungered so for higher things, --
The altitudes of power and fame,
And all that fortune brings:
Till, with his great heart fevered thus,
And aching as impetuous,
I almost wished sometimes that he
Were blind and patient made, like me.
But he has won! -- I knew he would. --
Once in the mighty Eastern mart,
I knew his music only could
Be sung in every heart!
And when he proudly sent me this
From out the great metropolis,
I bent above the graven score
And, weeping, kissed it o'er and o'er. --
And yet not blither sing the birds
Than this glad melody, -- the tune
As sweetly wedded with the words
As flowers with middle-June;
Had he not told me, I had known
It was composed of love alone --
His love for her. -- And she can see
His happy face eternally! --
While I -- O God, forgive, I pray! --
Forgive me that I did so long
To look upon his face to-day! --
I know the wish was wrong. --
Yea, I am thankful that my sight
Is shielded safe from such delight: --
I can pray better, with this blur
Of blindness -- both for him and her.
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