Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE BARGAIN, by CLAIRE STEWART BOYER



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THE BARGAIN, by            
First Line: I sold my soul to satan for a price
Last Line: My soul and beauty are come back to me.
Subject(s): Devil; Soul; Satan; Mephistopheles; Lucifer; Beelzebub


I sold my soul to Satan for a price:
Dominion over one enchanted town,
Whose streets were white as streets of Paradise,
Edged with gay brooks where blossoms floated down;
And poplars all on tip-toe touched the sky,
A thousand archers dressed in glossy green
Who cheered the homing birds as they went by,
And used the wind of heaven as a screen.

Through clicking gates, past fences painted red
And velvet grasses dashed with daisy white,
Each cottage with a welcome raised its head
Adorned with glowing gardens of delight;
And through the doors came vibrant human forms,
Whose hearts were rich with laughter, ripe with love,
Whose eyes knew peace that lingers after storms,
Whose voices blended meadow-lark and dove.

Why should I ask for Heaven if I can find
A place on earth whose beauty satisfies,
And Satan ready, smiling, even kind,
To take my soul and give this earthly prize;
Just for a moment, in the fair exchange,
I thought of Him upon a mountain high,
Refusing all the earth, a bargain strange,
To teach man truth and at his hands to die.

Then breathing in the beauty of my dream,
Ecstatic at the thought of earthly power,
I tossed my soul to Satan—and its gleam
Leapt at me with the flash of death's dark hour.
A moment I stood stunned, then Satan's voice
Bayed out its banter of triumphal glee,
Two paths I saw and I must make my choice—
To join with him forever or to flee.

I wrapt the cloak of courage round me tight
And from his mocking presence hurried down,
And there spread out before my startled sight
My booty lay—my own enchanted town;
But O how different it looked to me,
Its fragrance lost, its color disappeared,
The little sounds that made its melody
Were choked, its silence gaped at me and leered.

Still were the wind-free poplars of the town,
The brooks meandered quietly as night,
And shadows of great clouds had fallen down
On stiff black grasses eaten with a blight;
Out of the doors came quiet human shapes,
No sign of joy or happiness they gave,
A country of the dead where none escapes,
Each cottage was a lonely, listless grave.

I ached with silence all the livelong day,
I spoke to no one, no one spoke to me,
They were but shapes with lips locked up to stay,
Their shadow-souls encased them wearily.
"Beauty is gone," I heard my voice repeat,
"And life is hollow as an empty bowl."
Then flashed a vision with its echo sweet,
"Beauty is gone because you have no soul."

In shame and penitence I bowed my head,
And filled my life with little human deeds;
And now I find that where my heart has bled
Have sprung up flowers for my daily needs.
My world is slowly changing, and I pray
The God of love and charity that He
Will let me live and serve until the day
My soul and beauty are come back to me.





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